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26 warrants & bail, but Mukhtar Ansari still in Punjab jail — UP’s custody case before SC

Uttar Pradesh has moved the top court, seeking a direction to Punjab to hand over the BSP MLA’s custody so that trials in 10 criminal cases pending against him can proceed.

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New Delhi: Lodged in Roopnagar jail in Punjab for almost two years now, Uttar Pradesh politician Mukhtar Ansari has allegedly managed to avoid 26 court warrants issued against him by a special court in Prayagraj, all on medical grounds. Ansari is said to be suffering from hypertension, diabetes, back pain and skin allergy.

Moreover, he has not applied for bail in an extortion-cum-threat case lodged against him in Punjab’s Mohali, for which he continues to be in judicial custody. This comes despite the lapse of a statutory period of 90 days for Punjab Police to complete its probe in the case, entitling Ansari to “default bail”.

These facts about Ansari — sitting Bahujan Samaj Party MLA from Mau in UP assembly — have been placed before the Supreme Court by the Yogi Adityanath government in its petition, seeking a direction to Punjab to hand over the MLA’s custody so that trials in 10 criminal cases pending against him can proceed.

The FIRs against him are registered under various sections of the Gangster Act and heinous Indian Penal Code provisions, including murder charges.

In August 2018, these cases were placed before a Prayagraj special court that was set up pursuant to apex court’s direction to all states to fast-track criminal trials against lawmakers.

However, on 22 January 2019, the senior superintendent of district jail in Banda, where Ansari was lodged, gave the politician’s custody to the court of judicial magistrate in Mohali, after receiving a court warrant in connection with the extortion case registered there. The officer did so without the Prayagraj court’s permission, for which he is facing departmental enquiry, the petition said.

Now, the Adityanath government has claimed in the top court that the case in Mohali was part of a “preconceived design of Ansari to escape the clutches of the law in UP”.

The petition came up for hearing before the top court Monday. Directions were issued to the Punjab government to file a status report within two weeks on Ansari’s case pending in Mohali court as well as on his health.


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UP govt highlights state’s duty

Calling for the Supreme Court’s intervention in the dispute, the Yogi Adityanath government invoked Article 32 jurisdiction — remedies for enforcement of rights — in its plea.

This was because Ansari’s “conscious and malicious” attempt to evade the law of the land has delayed the trials against him, putting the state’s executive framework to disrepute, besides sending a wrong message to such offenders, the government said.

It also noted that as a State, it is its onerous and foremost duty under Article 39A of the Constitution to ensure that its citizens uphold their trust and belief in the administration of justice.

Response to warrants

The petition enlisted the dates when court warrants were issued against Ansari over a year.

While one was sent out in February 2019, two each were issued in March, April and June 2019. Later, six warrants were ordered in July 2019, five in August, three in October and one in November. In 2020, the court issued two warrants each in January and February.

All the warrants were responded to with medical certificates and communications issued on different dates by the superintendent of district jail in Roopnagar, refusing to agree with UP’s request to handover Ansari’s custody.

According to the petition, the ailments mentioned in the medical reports are of the nature of diabetes, skin allergy, hypertension and back ache due to a fall. However, when Ansari was allowed to leave the state in compliance of the Mohali court warrant, he was “absolutely fit and healthy”, said the government.

The state said that the trials against Ansari in Prayagraj cannot proceed in his absence, with the court on 17 December 2019 ordering his mandatory appearance for recording evidence.

A UP police team sent to Mohali, headed by an inspector, also returned without Ansari’s custody in October 2020, disclosed the plea.


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‘Ansari seeks to avoid the process of law in UP’

According to the plea, the Punjab government has denied Ansari’s custody to UP, despite the latter following due process under criminal procedure code. This has resulted in violation of constitutional rights of citizens and victims to have a “predictable, coherent and judicious trial” before the courts in Uttar Pradesh.

What seems to have prompted UP to approach the top court is the fact that Ansari has been in jail far longer than permissible for the police to complete its probe in a criminal case and file the charge sheet.

Under the law, if the investigation is not done within a statutory period, then the accused is entitled to default bail, which means the court has to release him on routine. But in this case, Ansari has not even applied for bail, while the police have not submitted its final report in the case, said the plea.

“By way of said conduct alone, it is abundantly clear that Mukhtar Ansari seeks to avoid the process of law in UP,” the petition asserted.

Moreover, while Ansari is lodged in Roopnagar jail, his case is pending in a Mohali court where he makes appearances through video-conferencing, the state claimed.

‘Conspiracy’

According to the Adityanath government, the case against Ansari is a consequence of a conspiracy hatched by him to evade the process of law.

The case of extortion and criminal intimidation was lodged against him in Mohali on 8 January 2019 at a time when one of the cases in UP was at the stage of pronouncement of judgment.

The FIR in Mohali named one “Ansari Mobile No. 63904-07709.” On the date of the alleged crime, Ansari was lodged in the Banda jail and the mobile number mentioned was that of a lady named “Rizwana Bano”, the government claimed.

On 19 January, Mohali court issued the warrant seeking Ansari be produced before it.


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1 COMMENT

  1. Till a SECULAR government is in power in Punjab. Yogiji’s government will not be able to arrest human rights activist who has dedicated his life to protect democracy and secularism the most kind hearted MUKHTAR ANSARI .

    Remember what happened to SOHRABUDDIN another human rights activists and a true believer in democracy and SECULAR values.

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