Try Punjab chief minister outside state: opposition leader

April 11th, 2008 - 7:08 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday issued notices to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his two relatives on a plea by his predecessor Amarinder Singh for transferring the trial of a corruption case against them outside the state. Issuing the notices, a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran sought the replies by May 2, a day before the cases come up in a trial court.

The two relatives of Badal issued notices are his wife Surinder Kaur and son Sukhbir Badal, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president.

The Punjab chief minister and his family members are facing trial for owning properties worth several millions of rupees far exceeding their legal income. They are facing trials in lower courts at Mohali near Chandigarh and at Ropar in Punjab.

The case against Badal and his family members was registered in 2003.

The petition seeking transfer of trial of the Punjab chief minister and his family members outside Punjab was filed jointly by Singh and several other Congress legislators of the state, including Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Jeet Mohinder Singh, Mangat Ram Bansal and Gurpreet Singh Khangar.

Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel Andhyarujina contended that since Badal became chief minister, most of the prosecution witnesses, who are mostly government officials, have turned hostile thus jeopardising a free and fair trial in the state.

Andhyarujina further contended that Badal has completely replaced the old team of public prosecutor and state counsel for the case.

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for Badal, however, contended that the petition was politically motivated and the petitioner has no right seek the transfer of the trial.

Appearing for another accused, senior counsel Arun Jaitley told the court that Badal became the chief minister on Feb 28 last year and the senior public prosecutor was appointed by the Amarinder Singh government.

Accordingly, the allegation that the Akali Dal government in the state was responsible for appointing an entirely new team of state counsel is not correct, said Jaitley.

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