Punjab multi-crore drug haul: Ball in Channi-Sidhu’s court now, it’s high time to expose main culprits

Notably, just a few months ago Sidhu was criticising then-Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for failing to act on the STF report and not making it public despite the court's order.

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday advanced the hearing on the Punjab drugs haul case by a month. The suo motu case against the state was initially scheduled to be heard on November 15 will now be heard on October 13.

Before the hearing on Tuesday, the Punjab PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu tweeted, “STF Report on Drugs will finally see light of day after 2.5 yrs of delay in sealed covers, court naming main culprits behind drug trade will be first victory for youth & suffering mothers of Punjab.”

Notably, just a few months ago Sidhu was criticising then-Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for failing to act on the STF report and not making it public despite the court's order.

Looks like it’s turn for the Channi-Sidhu government to act on the drug menace in Punjab and ensure that the reports are made public now.

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Advocate Navkiran Singh, appearing on behalf of Lawyers for Human Rights International, who is pursuing the case in the court, believes the same.

On the day the Punjab and Haryana High Court advanced the hearing in the Punjab drugs case, Advocate Singh told Indian Express that now is the time for Sidhu to act through on his promises and ensure that the report is made public, now that Capt Amarinder has been ousted from office.

It is worth noting that Captain Amarinder Singh was attacked by rebellion for not making the STF reports and failure in inaction.  Being critical of Capt Amarinder Singh and his government, Sidhu had accused then CM of taking no action on drugs to protect the Badals and Majithia.

In a thread of tweets in August, the state party head stated that Congress's 18-point agenda prioritised punishing drug traffickers. He also inquired about the status of SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia.

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“In February 2018, STF headed by ADGP Harpreet Sidhu filed “status report” in Punjab & Haryana High Court, investigating statements & evidence recorded by ED that were submitted before Hon’ble Court in case of Bikramjit Singh Majithia & others involvement in Drug trafficking,” the cricketer turned politician remarked.

Sidhu further went on to ask: “What investigation had Punjab Police done? What action had Punjab Govt taken? Must be brought into the public domain. Since the submission of reports, what further action did the state take in 2.5 years? Govt must make itself accountable to the Public with complete transparency !!”

“Govt must move plea for preponement of opening of sealed reports to the earliest taking case against Majithia to a logical conclusion, punishing the guilty,” urged Sidhu.

Now, the tables have turned and Advocate Navkiran Singh has accused Channi-Sidhu led Congress of using excuses not to act on the case. “There has been no hold on any action proposed by the Punjab government in the STF report. The state government is dragging its feet on the issue with the deliberate intent of postponing the matter,” claimed advocate Singh.

Mr Singh further claimed that the HC has set no restrictions on the Punjab government that prevents it from taking action against those found prima facie guilty in the STF report.

In response to Navkiran's claims, Advocate General APS Deol stated that the High Court proceedings are progressing because the court has taken notice of the subject on its own accord.

“In this case, the state government has not even filed an FIR. How can it take any action while the court is investigating it on its own initiative? There is no stay in place, but it is unethical to proceed without the approval of the High Court since they asked the government's opinion on the STF report and have yet to issue an order,” Deol added.

The new dispensation in the state government, according to the AG, has no intention of dragging the case.

In response to Deol’s arguments, Navkiran Singh said: "The intentions of the new dispensation are also exposed by the fact that they never made an application in the court for a speedy conclusion.”

“After taking over as AG, A P S Deol should have done so the next day. And, in terms of not opposing my plea for a speedy conclusion, even the previous Attorney General, Atul Nanda, never opposed it in court, and the case went on”, Mr Singh argued.

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With both the parties claiming that they are working for justice, the case apparently remains dangling. It won’t be wrong to say that the reports might remain sealed as long as Congress rules Punjab. Now all eyes stay on the October 13th hearing after which High Court will be closed for the Dussehra break.