SC gives notice to Badal and family in transfer of case to Delhi

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New Delhi, Apr 11 (UNI) The Supreme Court today issued notices to Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal and the wife of Sukhbir Singh on a petition seeking transfer of a corruption case pending against Mr Badal from Punjab to Delhi.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Mr justice R V Raveendran,however,refused to stay the trial.

Senior counsel Andhiarjuna appearing for the petitioner, former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh contended before the court that since Mr Badal became the Chief Minister of the state most of the prosecution witnesses who are mostly government officers have turned hostile and free and fair trial is not possilble in an intimidating atmosphere in the court at Mohali and Ropar.

Senior counsel K K Venugopal appearing for Mr Badal, however, contended that the petition was politically motivated and the petitioner has no locus standi to file it.

Senior counsel Arun Jaitely appearing for another accused told the court that Mr Badal became the Chief Minister on February 28, 2007 and the senior public prosecutor was appointed by Amarinder singh government and, therefore, the allegation that the Akali Dal government in the state was responsible for appointing the new team of state counsels is not correct.

The next date of hearing of the corruption case is May 3, 2008 and, therefore, the Supreme Court has decided to hear the transfer petition on May 2, a day before the date in the trial court.

The apex court wanted to know from the counsel of the petitioner whether the government employees will remain the employees of the state government and they can be expected to be free from the pressure even if the case is transferred to Delhi.

The counsel for the petitioner responded by saying that the change of atmosphere in the court will make a lot of difference and all the 138 witnesses in the case are not government bureaucrats.

Mr Badal and his family members are facing trial under the Prevention of Corruption Act for acquiring assets disproportionate to their known sources of income by misusing their official status.

They are facing allegations of amassing assets running into several thousand crore of rupees through corrupt means.

The apex court also diirected the three main accused to file their responses within two weeks.

The apex court, however ,did not issue any notice to remaining respondents.

FIR was registered against Mr Badal and his family members in 2003.

UNI SC SY DS1318

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