The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Punjab government not to arrest Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikram Singh Majithia in an alleged drugs case till Monday.
While agreeing to hear the former minister’s appeal against denial of anticipatory bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana said the state should wait till Monday.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, representing Majithia, mentioned the matter for an urgent listing before the bench.
“This is a case of political vendetta. They want him to be arrested during the election fever,” said Rohatgi.
“What election fever, Mr Rohatgi? This is an election virus. Everyone is rushing to courts now,” said the bench.
Rohatgi sought an interim order to protect his client from arrest till the next date of hearing. He said Majithia’s petition for anticipatory bail was rejected on January 24 and he was given protection only for three days. He said it was expiring on Thursday.
Senior advocate P Chidambaram, who appeared for the government, said Majithia had been in hiding since he was refused the relief by the HC.
The bench told Chidambaram the state should not take any coercive step against Majithia since the top court had agreed to list his matter for hearing.
The dismissal of Majithia’s bail plea came a day before the filing of nomination papers was to commence in Punjab. Majithia plans to contest from Majitha constituency in Amritsar district.
Majithia, who is facing a case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, was earlier granted interim bail by the HC on a condition that he will cooperate in the investigation.
The state opposed the continuation of this relief before the HC, saying Majithia had not extended full cooperation during the probe.
Majithia claimed that the case was registered against him in view of the elections. He added the sole intention of registering it was to take him into custody and torture him.
In his appeal filed before the SC, Majithia called the case a blatant abuse of power. He said there was no credible evidence against him and that he had been cooperating with the investigators.
The former minister was charged on the basis of a 2018 report into a drugs ring. The report was filed by anti-drug special task force chief Harpreet Singh Sidhu in the HC in 2018.
A 49-page FIR was filed by the Punjab crime branch.