M A I N   N E W S

Disproportionate assets case against Badals
SC stays hearing in Mohali court
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
In a significant development, the Supreme Court today restrained the special court at Ropar, hearing the disproportionate assets case against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and others, from proceeding further with the trial.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan restrained the trial judge at Mohali from recording statements of the accused under Section 313, CrPC, till July 24, the date fixed by the apex court for the final disposal of the petition filed by former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh seeking the transfer and re-trial of the criminal case involving Badal, his son and associates. The trial court was to hear the case on May 26.

The Supreme Court further directed the trial court to give to the petitioner certified copies of depositions examined for prosecution and certified copies of orders passed by the trial court from time to time. The apex court restrained the trial court from further hearing in the case after T. Andhyarujina, senior counsel for Capt Amarinder, submitted that the prosecution had dropped most of the crucial witnesses among 136 and permitted to examine only 30.

He contended that by dropping crucial witnesses the prosecution apparently wanted to rush with the trial, which would help Badal gain acquittal. Andhyarujina also told the court that most of the prosecution witnesses examined so far, including the SP, who is the complainant in the case, had turned hostile due to intimidations by the SAD in the court. He contended that a fair trial was not possible in such circumstances. On this, one of the judges on the Bench, Justice M.K. Sharma, asked Andhyarujina: “Has the Investigating Officer also re-siled?” The IO had earlier stated before the trial court that he never investigated the matter.

Senior counsel for Badal Harish Salve vehemently opposed the contentions of Andhyarujina with regard to the examination of witnesses and said the prosecution had examined witnesses it thought were crucial and left out those which it thought were unnecessary. He also wanted that the court should not pass any restraint order till further hearing, but the Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishanan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and M.K. Sharma rejected Salve’s plea and suspended the hearing by the trial court.

For his part, Salve also opposed the request for giving copies of the documents to Capt Amarinder Singh, on which Justice Raveendran observed how the accused could comment on this request as the matter was between the court and the petitioner.

While Salve opposed the adjournment of the case, the counsel for Punjab suggested that he would seek an adjournment in the trial court. The Bench, however, rejected the pleas and said it would itself order the trial court not to proceed in the matter.

On March 24, 2003, soon after the Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh came to power in Punjab, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau booked Badal, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal and other associates on the allegations of corruption, bribery and amassing wealth disproportionate to their income. In his petition, Capt Amarinder had contended that prosecution in the case had collapsed since Badal assumed power in Punjab in February 2007.

The rejoinder filed today by Amarinder Singh questioned the conduct of the prosecution, stating that several witnesses, who are professionals such as chartered accountants who evaluated Badal’s properties, had been deliberately ignored by the prosecution.

While Capt Amarinder’s counsel today contended that the trial in the case was galloping leaving various witnesses unexamined, Salve termed Capt Amarinder’s petition as “politically motivated” and said the prosecution had only examined those witnesses those it thought were crucial for the trial and left those it thought were unnecessary.

The court, however, said it would hear the petition in detail on July 24 to decide the questions raised by Capt Amarinder and some other petitioners.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |