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Punjab 'shamelessly' protecting gangster Mukhtar Ansari, UP govt tells SC

During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Ansari, said that he (Ansari) was "small fry" being cornered by the "might of the state".  

PTI PTI
New Delhi Published on: February 24, 2021 15:47 IST
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Mukhtar Ansari is lodged in district jail Rupnagar in Punjab since January 2019.

The Punjab government is "shamelessly" protecting gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, lodged in Rupnagar district jail in connection with an alleged extortion case, by not sending him to Uttar Pradesh to face trial in several cases, the UP government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy however took note of the submission of senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the Punjab government, seeking adjournment in the matter on personal grounds.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, said he has no objection to Dave's plea for adjournment.

The top court has posted the matter for hearing on March 2.

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During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Ansari, said that he (Ansari) was "small fry" being cornered by the "might of the state".

To this, Mehta said, "You (Ansari) are such a small fry that a state (Punjab) is shamelessly protecting you."

Ansari is lodged in district jail Rupnagar in Punjab since January 2019.

The UP government also filed written submissions in the top court stating that transfer of Ansari's custody was meticulously planned and raised a strong suspicion of conspiracy to delay the proceedings before the Special Judge (MP/MLA), Allahabad.

The state government said it has "locus standi" to seek transfer of case pending before Judicial Magistrate Mohali, to the court of Special Judge (MP/MLA) Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, as UP is “party interested” under Section 406 of Code of Criminal Procedure (Power of Supreme Court to transfer cases and appeals).

"There is no specific provision for transfer of an under trial prisoner under Code of Criminal Procedure or Jail Manual still this Court can pass an order of transfer of Respondent No.3 (Ansari) to District Jail Banda, Uttar Pradesh considering the facts situation of the present matter by exercising jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India," the UP government said.

It said Ansari's fallacious plea that he does not want to come to the state as his life is under threat, is contrary to the plea of Punjab which contends that the accused is unable to travel due to medical reasons.

The conduct of Punjab is evident from the fact that neither Ansari has applied for default bail in past two years nor the Punjab police have filed the charge sheet even after two years of lodging the accused in jail, the UP government said.

"It is further appalling that Mukhtar Ansari has been operating his illegal activities in the state of Uttar Pradesh from within the jail maintained by the State of Punjab," it said.

"The transfer of Respondent No.3 (Ansari) is imperative from District Jail Roopnagar, State of Punjab to District Jail Banda, Uttar Pradesh and the appearance securing through video conferencing would not serve the purpose in view of the fact that the attendance could not be secured at several occasions in past, as a result the Special Judge (MP/MLA) Allahabad is not able to complete the trial expeditiously," the UP government said.

It also told the apex court that contention of Ansari that he has risk to his life is unsustainable and cannot be a ground for not handing over his custody.

"Ansari had been safely lodged in the Banda Jail in Uttar Pradesh for 15 years duly protected by the Jail authorities and given full medical and health care. The State of Uttar Pradesh is duty bound to provide all safety and protection to accused and as such the alleged fear of Ansari is imaginary, ill founded and deserves to be rejected," it said.

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by Uttar Pradesh seeking a direction to the Punjab government and Rupnagar jail authority to immediately hand over the custody of Ansari to district jail Banda.

It has also sought a direction to transfer the criminal proceedings and trial in the extortion case in Punjab to the special court in Allahabad.

In its affidavit filed in the apex court, Punjab had referred to the medical condition of Ansari and said that he had been undergoing treatment at jail hospital as well as other hospitals from time to time since January 2019.

While referring to the medical condition and advice of doctors, it has said that custody of Ansari “could not be handed over to the state of Uttar Pradesh due to the specific advice of the medical officers/medical board /specialists” from time to time.

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