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Disproportionate assets case
Badal, kin chargesheeted
Maneesh Chhibber & Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 13
It all began with a simple question-answer session in Punjabi. What is your name and age? What is your father’s name? What is your residential address?

Having answered all three questions to the satisfaction of Ropar special judge G.S. Saran, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was the first one to be formally served the chargesheet in the disproportionate assets case here today.

He was followed by his wife Surinder Kaur and politician-son Sukhbir Singh Badal, who were also asked similar questions by the judge.

The Chief Minister, his wife and son Sukhbir Badal, who is an MP from Faridkot, signed the chargesheet before the judge and pleaded not guilty in the case. A chargesheet was also served on another accused Gurinder Singh Grewal.

With today’s brief hearing, where the Badal clan was represented by over one dozen lawyers, including Gurminder Singh and Vikram Chaudhri, the stage is now set for further hearing in the cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act against them.

On April 9 and 10, the prosecution will present its witnesses in court for recording their evidence.

It may be recalled that on March 9, judge Saran ordered framing of charges under various Sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code against Badal, his wife, son and seven others in the case.

Since the Badals were not present in court that day, they had been asked to be present today for framing of charges.

Today, the hearing started around 2 p.m., with scores of supporters of the Chief Minister and his family having assembled in the court complex here to extend support to their leaders.

Among those who had come to the court were former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar and SAD patron Sant Ajit Singh. However, except for Bibi Jagir Kaur, who literally clawed her way into the courtroom, no other leader or supporter was allowed entry into the courtroom following strict instructions issued by the judge.

From the prosecution side, only the Ropar district attorney was present.

Later, talking to mediapersons outside the court, Badal reiterated his earlier stand that the case against him and his family members was false and politically motivated and at the behest of his predecessor Capt Amarinder Singh.

He, however, added that they would honour all judicial orders and verdicts, as they have full faith and respect for the court. Rejecting the Congress demand for his resignation after the framing of charges, he asserted that “legally and morally” there was no ground for his resignation.

“When Amarinder came to power and cases were registered against us, my family’s asserts were pegged at over Rs 3,500 crore. But, now the Vigilance Bureau has estimated our wealth at Rs 78 crore. My offer that Amarinder Singh is welcome to take any ill-gotten property of ours that is found in foreign countries still stands,” he said.

To a question if he and his family would appeal in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the framing of charges, Badal said any decision in this regard would be taken by his lawyers.

Incidentally, the Chief Minister also referred to the reports of the Income Tax Department, which had purportedly give a clean chit to the Badals. “Even the Income Tax Department has given a clean chit to us,” he said.

His lawyers when asked for the stand of the Badals on the demand for shifting the case outside Punjab in view of the fact that he was heading the government now, replied an decision in this regard would be taken only when the “situation arose”.

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