Two former Congress ministers from Punjab are presently lodged in the identical Patiala Central Jail — one an accused, the opposite a witness in his case.
The witness is former Punjab Congress president and an ex-minister within the earlier Congress authorities, Navjot Singh Sidhu, who’s in jail for the previous 5 months in a street rage case. The accused is one other former Congress minister and ex-MLA of Ludhiana West, Bharat Bhushan Ashu. For a while now, the case is caught as Sidhu has refused to seem in court docket regardless of a number of summons, for causes from safety to well being.
Whereas Ashu is imprisoned in an alleged foodgrains tender rip-off, Sidhu is a witness in one other case filed towards Ashu in an area Ludhiana court docket, by dismissed cop Balwinder Singh Sekhon. The previous police official has alleged that Ashu had harassed and intimidated him throughout his inquiry into the CLU (change of land use) rip-off of Ludhiana.
Ashu is accused of serving to a non-public builder get a CLU certificates, on the idea of solid paperwork, for a residential flat mission value over Rs 70 crore, as a part of the Amarinder Singh Cupboard. Sidhu was the Native Our bodies Minister on the time, and had ordered the probe. Sekhon had submitted a report back to Sidhu’s workplace in 2019 – he claims it indicted Ashu and others within the alleged rip-off. The file has now gone “lacking” from the Native Our bodies Division.
Sidhu was summoned as a witness after Sekhon instructed the court docket that he has a photocopy of the inquiry report, and Sidhu may show its authenticity.
Nevertheless, the previous minister, recognized for his unpredictability, has refused to bodily seem. Whereas at first, he submitted through his counsel that he shouldn’t be summoned as a witness in any respect, he later stated he was prepared to seem through video-conferencing, however provided that the safety cowl, equal to the Z+ class cowl he was offered earlier, was restored, contemplating a “menace to [his] life”.
From rapper Sidhu Moosewala’s homicide and a blast on the Ludhiana court docket, Sidhu has cited a number of causes in his a number of purposes to the court docket and the Patiala jail superintendent. Three such purposes by him to the native court docket, a revision petition within the session court docket, and one other plea within the Excessive Courtroom, have been dismissed.
On Wednesday, his counsel Manjit Singh Khaira stated the Excessive Courtroom had lastly allowed Sidhu’s contemporary plea to seem within the Ludhiana court docket through video-conferencing on October 28.
In one in every of his purposes to the jail superintendent, Sidhu wrote that his Z+ safety cowl was withdrawn the day he was imprisoned. “… we should be taught our classes from the Sidhu Moosewala case.. Higher forestall and put together than repent and restore…”, he wrote. “I’ll by no means danger my life till the stated safety is restored… to facilitate the court docket I’m prepared to seem through video-conferencing….”
In one other software to the jail superintendent, he repeated his issues over safety. “No one appears to take accountability… everyone passes the buck…,” Sidhu wrote, demanding safety for a court docket go to.
He additional wrote that he has by no means refused to seem as a witness in court docket. “… however I’m stopping moderately than repenting… To go unannounced within the open court docket the place (a) bomb blast befell is a excessive danger… Will any person take the accountability?”
On September 19, dismissing Sidhu’s purposes citing safety menace, the Ludhiana court docket stated: “Safety menace argument is devoid of any benefit as a result of if he can go to PGI for his therapy with none Z+ safety cowl, then he also can seem in court docket….”
On October 20, a day earlier than the final listening to, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who had earned Sidhu’s reward for being a “receptive, no conceitedness CM”, stepped in. “Navjot Singh Sidhu ji will seem as a witness within the case in a court docket of Ludhiana tomorrow. Orders have been issued to offer him ample safety,” Mann tweeted.
Nevertheless, on October 21, Sidhu once more skipped the listening to after being declared “unwell” by jail docs.
By the way, there’s little love misplaced between Sidhu and Ashu. After the alleged CLU rip-off broke in 2019, Sidhu had quipped: “Mantri ho ya santri, sabko thokunga (Be it a minister or a guard, I received’t spare anybody).” Then CM Amarinder Singh had defended Ashu within the Meeting, and stated he received’t take any arbitrary motion towards the minister with out proof.
Sekhon was quickly after dismissed as DSP for allegedly sending abusive texts to Ashu. Within the Meeting polls this yr, the previous cop contested towards each Sidhu from Amritsar East, and Ashu from Ludhiana West — “to not win, however to reveal the corrupt ministers”. Within the AAP sweep of the elections, each Sidhu and Ashu had misplaced.
No matter what’s taking place exterior the jail, Ashu and Sidhu hardly ever meet or come nose to nose contained in the jail, stated a senior official of the Patiala jail. “They’re lodged in several cells which can be fairly far aside. They hardly discuss to one another.”
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