Punjab is vociferously defending & supporting gangster Mukhtar Ansari, UP govt tells SC

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New Delhi, Feb 8 (PTI) The Uttar Pradesh government told the Supreme Court on Monday that the Punjab government has 'vociferously defended' gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, who is in district jail Rupnagar in connection with an alleged extortion case, and he is “enjoying” in the prison there.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Uttar Pradesh, told a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and R S Reddy that trial in several cases of heinous offences involving Ansari, a BSP MLA from Mau constituency, is held up in the state and Punjab government is “supporting a gangster”.

“The state (Punjab) says Mukhtar Ansari is suffering from depression. Ansari says he belongs to a family of freedom fighter. The point is there are several cases of heinous offences lodged against him (in Uttar Pradesh). He is a gangster. He is happy in jail in Punjab,' Mehta said, adding, 'Why should state of Punjab support Mukhtar Ansari'.

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by Uttar Pradesh seeking a direction to state of Punjab 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.

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

During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, Mehta said, “Mukhtar Ansari is being vociferously defended by Punjab.” “He is enjoying in Punjab jail. Serious cases of murder and other offences are being held up (in Uttar Pradesh). The state (of Punjab) is supporting a gangster,” Mehta said.

The counsel appearing for Ansari said that he has also filed a petition seeking transfer of case from Uttar Pradesh to Punjab and that plea should also be heard along with this matter.

The solicitor general said, “It is only a delay tactic. This is question of very serious significance. In one state, he is facing trial for serious offences”.

The bench said that it would hear the matter on February 24.

In its affidavit filed in the apex court, Punjab has 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. PTI ABA SA