LE Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 6, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice to the Punjab government, the Central government and the Enforcement Directorate on a fresh petition praying to open a Punjab STF report, pertaining to the drug mafia operating in the state, that is lying in a sealed cover as per an order passed by the High Court on May 23, 2018.

The report contains the response of the State of Punjab on the report submitted by the then Special Task Force (STF) chief Harpreet Singh Sidhu who investigated the matter in 2017 and then submitted the report in the High Court. It was ordered to be kept in a sealed cover with the registrar of the High Court.

Punjab’s problem with drug addiction and the rampant availability of drugs have been well documented. The case began with a letter that former DGP (prisons) Punjab, Shashikant, wrote to the high court in September 2013. Taking suo motu cognisance of the letter, a division bench headed by then Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul treated it as a PIL.

The HC had initially impleaded the Punjab government and the Central government in the case but given the complicity of the problem, the Court also issued notices to the Narcotics Control Bureau, the Union Finance Ministry and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

In 2015, the Supreme Court directed the Punjab and Haryana High Court to constitute a special division bench to hear all drug-related matters.

In November 2017, the high court ordered that ED’s assistant director Niranjan Singh’s note on the involvement of a senior politician be shared with the STF on drug control, constituted by the Congress government that had taken over in the state.

 The STF, then headed by ADGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu, submitted a detailed report in a sealed cover, on Niranjan Singh’s note. A copy of this report was ordered to be given to Niranjan Singh for his comments and another to the Punjab government for consideration.

Niranjan Singh’s comments on the STF’s report were submitted to the HC in March, 2018 and were ordered to be kept in a sealed cover. The Punjab government’s comments on the STF’s report were submitted to the Court in May 2018 and these too, continue to be in a sealed cover.

Now, a fresh petition has sought to open these reports, praying that the matter pertains to the operation of drug mafia in the state in which the names of high profile politicians are also involved. It needs to be dealt with on an urgent basis, the plea has contended.

Hearing the matter, the bench of Justice Rajan Gupta and Ajay Tewari issued notice to the parties concerned and adjourned the matter till November 15, 2021. 

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