Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 13
More than three years after proceedings in the Punjab drugs case came to a virtual standstill, the matter came up for effective hearing this afternoon with the Punjab and Haryana High Court making clear its intent to come out with a timeline for hearing the issues, including opening of the special task force report and extradition of the accused.
The Bench of Justice Augustine George Masih and Justice Ashok Kumar Verma also fixed the case for Thursday — the last working day before it closes down for the Dussehra break.
As the case came for hearing for the first time before it, the Bench took up a synopsis, highlighting 13 points, submitted by advocate Navkiran Singh. The synopsis, summing up the proceedings ever since the High Court took suo motu cognisance of the matter way back in September 2013, was submitted by Navkiran Singh on the previous date of hearing in the matter underscoring drug menace in Punjab and requesting for judicial scrutiny.
Navkiran Singh, among other things, also called for the opening of reports submitted in the matter. One of the reports submitted in a sealed cover by the Punjab government was gone through by the Bench in May, 2018, before it was re-sealed.
Punjab Advocate-General APS Deol and senior advocate Anupam Gupta also aired similar views. The development comes at a time when the issue has attained political proportions, particularly with Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu repeatedly tweeting regarding the opening of the STF report “on multi-crore drug racket”.
The suo motu case came up for hearing on a regular basis till March last year, but came to a standstill after the High Court went into restrictive functioning mode following Covid outbreak, compelling advocate Navkiran Singh to file an application for advancing the date of hearing in the case. Taking up his plea, the hearing was advanced by almost a month.
Appearing on the behalf of Lawyers for Human Rights International, counsel Navkiran Singh also prayed that the Bench "may open" a report lying in a sealed cover in the case. He had contended the matter related to drug mafia operating in Punjab and was having international tentacles. It was required to be dealt with on an urgent basis as it affected the lives of the Punjabi youth.
"The sealed reports, which have been filed by Niranjan Singh, (the then) Deputy Director, Enforcement Directorate, and the Special Task Force, as well as the State of Punjab, need to be opened and considered by this Court Navkiran submitted.
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