December 8, 2022

‘Election virus’ causes targeting of rivals, says Supreme Court | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: In the midst of a disruptive pandemic caused by the coronavirus, the Supreme Court on Thursday detected another one, the ‘election virus’, and diagnosed that during poll-eve, this virus often afflicts the ruling parties of states, which resort to vengeful actions against political opponents.
This observation from a bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice A S Bopanna came prior to its order protecting Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia from arrest till Monday in a case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had rejected Majithia’s anticipatory bail plea in the FIR lodged against him on December 20 and had given him three days to move the SC, a deadline which was to expire on Thursday.
Appearing for Majithia, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi told the bench that the Congress government led by Charanjit Singh Channi is wreaking vengeance against Majithia only because he belonged to a rival political party. Majithia has fully cooperated with the investigating officer and yet the police want to arrest him. “It is the election fever when political opponents are targeted,” Rohatgi said.
CJI Ramana said, “We do not know. You are the best person to understand why states go after their political opponents just before elections. It is not election fever. It is the election virus which makes all opponents of ruling parties run to the court for protection from arrest.”
Finding senior advocate P Chidambram appearing for the Punjab government, the bench asked, “In all fairness, is it proper to do this (to Majithia on election-eve)?”
Chidambaram accused Majithia of non-cooperation with investigations in the serious charges of drug being circulated with the help of the official machinery and said that he has been absconding for the past three days. The bench said, “Chidamabaram, you are appearing for the state government. You tell the government not to take any coercive step till Monday when we will hear the petition (by Majitha seeking anticipatory bail in the NDPS case).” Chidambaram requested the bench not to record this in the order and assured that he would convey the SC’s views to the Channi government.
On January 24, the Punjab and Haryana HC’s Justice Lisa Gill had rejected Majithia’s anticipatory bail while agreeing with the state government that it was a serious offence, which brooked no delay in registration of FIR and prompt investigations into all aspects of the case.
“Grave allegations of a serious nature of intentional use of government machinery including vehicles, security personnel and other government facilities for assisting, facilitating and abetting drug trafficking and other related illegal activities as well as receipt of illegal proceeds from such trafficking have been raised against the petitioner,” the judge had said.
“In my considered opinion, there is indeed no embargo or bar upon the state government for proceeding to register FIR against the petitioner in case it has found that there is sufficient material to proceed against him,” the HC said, adding, “It cannot be denied that the petitioner indeed was at the helm of affairs at the time of occurrence of alleged offence(s). He was admittedly a cabinet minister for some part of the time and was admittedly closely related to then deputy chief minister of the state, besides, a member of Parliament… Merely on the ground that no action was taken by the state government for these long years, the petitioner is not entitled to relief in this petition”.

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