The Uttar Pradesh government Wednesday told the Supreme Court that gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari has been dodging the judicial system and is running his alleged illegal activities from Rupnagar district jail in Punjab where he is lodged. While Uttar Pradesh alleged in the apex court that there is collusion between Ansari and Punjab Police, the Amarinder Singh government refuted these claims and raised questions over the maintainability of plea filed by the Yogi Adityanath-led government.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and RS Reddy was hearing a plea filed by the Uttar Pradesh government seeking a direction to the Punjab government and Rupnagar jail authority to immediately hand over the custody of Ansari, an MLA from Mau constituency, to district jail Banda. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Uttar Pradesh, told the bench that several cases are pending against Ansari in the state and in 2019, an FIR for alleged extortion was lodged in Punjab against him.
He said that no charge sheet has been filed yet by the Punjab Police in the case and investigation is still going on. He (Ansari) is dodging the judicial system, Mehta told the bench, adding that he managed medical certificates which said that he is not permitted to travel but at the same time, Ansari had attended proceedings in other courts.
He has mocked and taken for ride the entire judicial system and the administrative system, he said. The senior law officer said it appears like a film script as several cases were pending against him in Uttar Pradesh and suddenly, the Punjab Police lodged an FIR in 2019.
Mehta said Ansari, who is lodged in Punjab jail, has not been produced before the court in Uttar Pradesh despite several orders. I am showing the collusion between them, the solicitor general said, adding, He is operating and running his illegal activities from jail in Punjab.
Referring to cases pending against him in Uttar Pradesh, Mehta said that state has the power to prosecute the accused for the victims, witnesses and also the citizens and their fundamental rights gets affected if the trial gets delayed. Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Punjab government, questioned the maintainability of the plea filed by Uttar Pradesh and said this issue would have far reaching consequences. We have nothing to do with Mukhtar Ansari. If he is a criminal, he is a criminal. The question is whether one state can file a writ petition in this court against another state in the circumstances in which Uttar Pradesh has done in this case, Dave said.
Giving an example of the case of journalist Siddique Kappan who was arrested on his way to Hathras where a young Dalit woman had died after being allegedly gang-raped, Dave said, Can Kerala tomorrow move the Supreme Court and say that he (Kappan) is from Kerala so he be transferred to Kerala from Uttar Pradesh?. Referring to the averments of Uttar Pradesh, he said these are grievances against judicial orders in which the state of Punjab has no role whatsoever.
State of Punjab has no role in this. This writ petition is not maintainable and it cannot be entertained, he said, adding that the jail authority has to comply with the medical records. The apex court also heard arguments on a separate plea filed by Ansari in which he has sought transfer of cases pending against him in Uttar Pradesh to Delhi.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Ansari, said that the MLA is seeking transfer of cases pending against him in Uttar Pradesh to Delhi. He alleged there is a threat to Ansari's life in Uttar Pradesh as one of the co-accused was eliminated in encounter by the Uttar Pradesh Police.
Government of Uttar Pradesh says I (Ansari) am lodged in Punjab jail while cases are pending in Uttar Pradesh so there is problem in the cases there. This problem will be resolve if my cases are transferred to Delhi, Rohatgi said. We will consider this, the bench told Rohatgi.
The Uttar Pradesh government had earlier told the apex court that the Punjab government is "shamelessly" protecting Ansari, who is lodged in Rupnagar district jail in connection with an alleged extortion case, by not sending him to Uttar Pradesh to face trial in several cases. The Punjab government had sought dismissal of plea filed by Uttar Pradesh, saying that only a citizen can move Supreme Court under Article 32 to claim fundamental rights and a state cannot invoke this provision.
Article 32 deals with the 'Right to Constitutional Remedies', and gives the right to move the top court for the enforcement of the rights conferred in the Constitution. Ansari is lodged in district jail Rupnagar in Punjab since January 2019.
The Uttar Pradesh government has also sought a direction to transfer the criminal proceedings and trial in the extortion case in Punjab to the special court in Allahabad. In its affidavit filed earlier in the apex court, Punjab had 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, Punjab had 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.