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Judicial oversight

In a huge embarrassment to the central government and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-led Punjab government, the Punjab and Haryana High Court Wednesday put on hold the transfer of Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer Niranjan Singh. The ED officer had questioned Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia, a close aide of Badal family in a Rs 6000-crore international drug racket.

Singh had recently questioned Majithia for over four hours along with other ED officials in Jalandhar, following allegations of the minister’s links with three Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), who were being investigated for money laundering in connection to the Rs 6,000-crore international synthetic drug racket. He was apparently transferred to Kolkata after he had questioned Majithia, the brother of union minister Harsimrat Badal, wife of Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. Going by the Centre’s decision to transfer the investigating officer in the case, the whole charade smells of political expediency, with elections in Delhi only a few days away.

The BJP requires the support of the SAD-Badal for the forthcoming assembly elections in key pockets of the national capital, where the Sikh community are in significant numbers. Also, the ED is under Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who had made Majithia his campaign in-charge for the 2014
general elections in the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency.

Punjab, the erstwhile food basket of India, is in the throes of drug addiction. A study by the central government claimed that four out of every ten males in the state are addicted to drugs and up to half this number are youth and farmers. In fact a survey by the Narcotics Control Bureau has stated that a steady supply from across Punjab’s borders is making it next to impossible for state and central agencies to tackle the menace of drug addiction. Among some of the well-known circumstances behind the ever increasing drug trade in Punjab is a thriving smuggler-police-politician nexus.

Therefore, when Niranjan Singh was transferred to Kolkata, questions began to emerge about the intentions of both the state government and Centre. The transfer of an investigating officer’s at this juncture could have further delayed investigations. What is worse, however, is that any attempt to make further progress in the case, has been made been difficult by the state-level sleuths, who were found to have laid bugs on ED officials. Clearly, there is a conspiracy to silence the drug racket that receives the patronage of some members in the state’s ruling establishment. Thankfully, the courts have stepped in.
MPost

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