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Supreme Court refuses to stay Amarinder’s expulsion
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 3
The Supreme Court today refused to stay the expulsion of former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh from the assembly, but stopped the move to have his Patiala Town seat declared vacant, pending disposal of his petition challenging the action against him for his alleged involvement in the Amritsar land development scam.

A three-Judge Bench of the court comprising Justices B N Agrawal, G S Singhvi and Aftab Alam also stayed the directive in the September 10 Punjab assembly resolution, asking the vigilance department of the police to investigate the corruption case and submit its report to the Speaker within two months. The report would now have to be submitted to a court of law.

Further, Capt Amarinder Singh's petition pending before the Punjab and Haryana High Court stands transferred to the apex court.

The judges directed the police to proceed with the investigation against Capt Amarinder Singh and three others ''in accordance with law without being influenced by any observation or direction’’ in the assembly’s September 10 resolution.

The directive to the police comes in the light of the assembly resolution, holding the four ‘’guilty’’ of corruption, conspiracy to cause wrongful loss and abuse of public office and that they had ‘’stashed away ill-gotten wealth or distributed the same.’’

The House had expelled Capt Amarinder Singh for the remaining term (3.5 years) as he was the sitting member and the other three were not. Two others, former local bodies minister Choudhary Jagjit Singh and the then chairman of the Amritsar Improvement Trust Jugal Kishor Sharma, have also moved the apex court, while the fourth is no more.

The court gave four weeks to all the parties to file their counter affidavits and two weeks for the rejoinders.

The court’s interim order came at the end of nearly two hours of arguments by the petitioners’ counsel, T R Andhyarjuna, Abhishek Singhvi and P P Rao, and the Special Committee of the Assembly — Ravi Shankar Prasad, advocate- general H S Mattewal and standing counsel Ajay Pal. Additional solicitor-general explained the case from the Constitutional point of view.

The apex court also clarified that it would dispose of the case before the next session of the assembly so that the petitioner’s interest was protected.

Capt Amarinder Singh and the other two petitioners contended that the corruption case against them was nothing but political vendetta. The assembly resolution had asked the vigilance department to investigate the case as the House did not have any machinery for the exercise and at the same time held them ‘’guilty’’ of corruption, they said and wondered how this was possible.

Also, they were not given a chance to explain their position and that the Assembly did not have the powers to take action against the members on criminal matters, unconnected with their privileges. While the report of the Special Committee of the assembly had not talked of any money transaction, the resolution mentioned about ill-gotten wealth.

Counsel for the assembly committee said the police FIR had not taken cognisance of the observations in the House resolution as the case had been registered on basis of ‘’prima facie’’ evidence and from now on the law would take its own course. ‘’How is it possible, if the police had to submit its report to the Speaker,’’ the judges wondered.

Earlier, on September 26, a Bench comprising Justices S B Sinha and Cyriac Joseph referred the case to a larger Bench because of the Constitutional matters involved in it.

Besides challenging his September 10 expulsion, Capt Amarinder Singh has also maintained that the September 15 Punjab and Haryana High Court order had virtually dismissed his petition by posting the hearing for December 1, without giving relief to him in the form of a stay.



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