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Khaira fails to get HC relief in drugs case 

Chandigarh, November 17

In a setback to Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and AAP MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed his plea against a Fazilka court’s orders summoning him as an additional accused in a drugs case. The Bench held that the call details between the additional accused and the convict could not be brushed aside lightly.

The order by Justice AB Chaudhari came less than a month after the Fazilka Additional Sessions Judge summoned Khaira and four others to face trial as additional accused. The judge had, on October 31, convicted 10 accused and simultaneously decided on an application under Section 319 of CrPC for summoning the additional accused by passing the impugned order. Quashing the order on issuance of non-bailable warrants, Justice Chaudhari gave the petitioners the liberty to apply to the trial court for anticipatory/regular bail, which would be considered on merit.The HC Judge said the evidence pointed out by the public prosecutor and the reasons given by the trial court could not be said to be leading to merely a prima facie case. The call details “cannot be taken lightly in the wake of drug smuggling across Pakistan border”.Justice Chaudhari quoted the impugned judgment, which, among other things, referred to the additional public prosecutor’s argument that “during investigation, it transpired that the kingpin behind the whole of the sequence was Sukhpal Singh Khaira”.Khaira’s counsel had dubbed the matter as a “classic instance of political vendetta”. But Justice Chaudhari asserted he was not prepared to accept the submission that the prosecution’s actions were actuated with malice.

The FIR was registered on March 5, 2015, when the present government was not in power. Besides, specific allegations of malafides had not been levelled against any particular person.Referring to the submissions that the power to summon the additional accused could be exercised till the conclusion of trial and not when the judgment was delivered, Justice Chaudhari quoted a High Court ruling to say that power under Section 319 could be exercised even after the conclusion of judgment.Justice Chaudhari ruled: “The present case stands on a better footing inasmuch as the order was passed under Section 319 simultaneously with the judgment and order of conviction of the original accused.”The Judge, at the same time, asserted that the submission by senior counsel for the petitioners that the trial court should not have issued non-bailable warrants, for securing their presence, was required to be upheld. 

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