SC directs Punjab govt to hand over custody of Mukhtar Ansari to UP police

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New Delhi, Mar 26 (PTI) The Supreme Court Friday directed the Punjab government to hand over the custody of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, who is lodged in Rupnagar jail there, to Uttar Pradesh Police, saying the custody was being denied on trivial grounds under guise of medical issues.

The apex court said a convict or an undertrial prisoner, who disobeys the law of the land, cannot oppose his transfer from one prison to another and the courts are not to be a helpless bystander when the rule of law is being challenged with impunity.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R S Reddy said the custody of Ansari, an MLA from Mau constituency, be handed over to Uttar Pradesh within two weeks so as to lodge him in District Jail, Banda in UP.

The bench said it was open for the special court, constituted for MPs/MLAs at Allahabad, to continue him either in the District Jail at Banda or shift to any other prison in the state, if any need arises.

“There shall be a direction to the Superintendent of Jail, District Jail Banda, Uttar Pradesh to extend the necessary medical facilities to the 3rd respondent (Ansari). It is made clear that if any specialty treatment is required to the 3rd respondent, the Jail Superintendent of District Jail, Banda, Uttar Pradesh shall take necessary steps to extend such medical care also, by following the Jail Manual,” it said.

The court, which held the UP government’s plea to be maintainable, however, refused to transfer a criminal case pending against Ansari in Punjab’s Mohali to UP and said the matter is at the stage of investigation.

“At the same time, in exercise of power under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, we issue directions, directing the respondent nos. 1 & 2 (Jail Superintendent of Rupnagar and State of Punjab), to handover custody of the 3rd respondent to the State of Uttar Pradesh, within a period of two weeks from today, so as to lodge him in District Jail, Banda in the State of Uttar Pradesh,” the bench said in its 56-page order.

The top court also dismissed a plea by Ansari seeking transfer of cases lodged against him in Uttar Pradesh to some other place outside the state.

The top court delivered the verdict on the plea of Uttar Pradesh government seeking a direction to the Punjab government and Rupnagar jail authority to immediately hand over the custody of Ansari, to the district jail Banda.

The bench noted that Ansari was allegedly involved in various cases of attempt to murder, murder, cheating and conspiracy apart from offences under Gangsters Act, lodged in UP and out of them, 10 cases are at the stages of trial.

The court was also informed by the UP government that whenever the state police sought Ansari’s custody, the superintendent of Punjab Jail had refused it on various medical grounds.

During the period from February 14, 2019 to February 14, 2020, Ansari’s custody was denied to the UP police by the Punjab jail authorities on 26 occasions mainly on the medical grounds referring to diabetes mellitus, skin allergy, hypertension, backache and throat infection.

The UP government had alleged that the very registration of crime on the file of a police station in Mohali was a part of conspiracy at the instance of Ansari to continue in the Punjab jail by protracting the trials, which are pending in the special court in UP and to deny his presence in various other crimes, registered against him for completing the investigation.

On this, the bench said, “We do not wish to record any finding on such allegation of conspiracy at this stage, but, at the same time, we are satisfied that the custody is denied to the Police of Uttar Pradesh at every time on trivial grounds under guise of medical grounds by mentioning ordinary diseases like diabetes mellitus, skin allergy, hypertension, backache, throat infection, etc.” Besides this, the bench said it gives any amount of suspicion on the conduct of Ansari in not even applying for grant of default bail, for not filing charge sheet by the Punjab police within the statutory period.

On March 4, the top court was informed by Punjab government that Yogi Adityanath-led government has got no fundamental right to seek Ansari’s transfer from Rupnagar jail to a district jail in Banda in Uttar Pradesh.

Ansari is lodged in district jail Rupnagar in Punjab in connection with an alleged extortion case since January 2019.

He is also accused in several cases of heinous crimes lodged in Uttar Pradesh.

The UP government has earlier contended that Ansari has been “dodging” the judicial system and is running his alleged illegal activities from Rupnagar district jail in Punjab.

While Uttar Pradesh had alleged in the apex court that there is “collusion” between Ansari and Punjab Police, the Amarinder Singh government has refuted these claims and raised questions over the maintainability of plea filed by the Yogi Adityanath government.

Ansari who has also filed petition seeking transfer of his cases in UP to outside the state, had submitted that because of his political affiliation to a party in opposition, he is being targeted.

Punjab government had said that Ansari has been unwell and central government owned PGI Chandigarh has been given him the medical certificates from time to time. PTI SKV ABA MNL SA