Amarinder’s plea for Badal’s trial outside Punjab dismissed

May 14th, 2009 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed a lawsuit seeking transfer outside the state of the trial of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his two relatives for their alleged role in a corruption case.
A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan dismissed the lawsuit by the state’s former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, saying that the petitioner has not been able to justify his apprehension that Badal would escape a fair trial within the state.

“Taking into consideration the entire facts and circumstances of the case and the materials on record, we are of the view that the petitioners (Amarinder Singh and others) have not made out a case that they have reasonable apprehension of not availing justice in the state of Punjab,” said the bench, which also included Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice J.M. Panchal.

“In the case on hand, the apprehension entertained by the petitioners cannot be construed as a reasonable one and the case cannot be transferred on a mere allegation that there is apprehension that justice will not be done,” it said.

Amarinder Singh has been expelled from the state assembly on charges of corruption during his tenure as chief minister 2002-2007.

The bench had reserved Feb 26 its verdict on his lawsuit.

Badal and his family members including wife Surinder Kaur and son, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, are facing trial for allegedly owning properties worth several millions rupees, far exceeding their declared sources of income. They are facing trials in lower courts at Mohali near Chandigarh and at Ropar in Punjab.

The cases against them were registered in 2003 when Amarinder Singh was chief minister.

The petitions seeking transfer of Badal’s trial outside the state were filed jointly by Amarinder Singh and several Congress legislators of the state, including Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Jeet Mohinder Singh, Mangat Ram Bansal and Gurpreet Singh Khangar.

In their petition, they had contended that since Badal became chief minister Feb 28, 2007, most of the prosecution witnesses, who are mostly government officials, have turned hostile, jeopardising a free and fair trial in the state.

They also argued that Badal had replaced the team of public prosecutor and state counsel to conduct the trial.

They also contended that the courts had examined only 58 of the 138 witnesses till now, but the prosecution was now seeking examination of the investigating officer of the case on the ground that almost all the crucial witnesses have been examined.

But the apex court dismissed their contentions terming them as mere apprehensions, devoid of any sound basis.

“We are of the opinion that in a secular, democratic government, governed by the rule of law, Punjab is responsible for ensuring free, fair and impartial trial to the accused, notwithstanding the nature of the accusations made against them,” said the bench.

It added: “The analysis of all the materials, the transfer of the case as sought for, at this stage, is not only against the interest of the prosecution but also against the interest of other accused persons, the prosecution witnesses and the convenience of all concerned in the matter.”

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