Supreme Court reserves order in plea seeking transfer of Mukhtar Ansari from Punjab to UP jail


Umamageshwari Maruthapan

The Supreme Court has reserved its order in the case regarding Mukhtar Ansari’s transfer of custody from a Punjab Jail to a jail in Uttar Pradesh.

A Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy was hearing the petition filed by the Uttar Pradesh Government seeking the transfer of Mukhtar Ansari’s custody to Uttar Pradesh from Ropar Jail, Punjab where he is currently lodged.

Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave represented the State of Punjab. While Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for Mukhtar Ansari, Uttar Pradesh was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

Adv. Dave submitted,

“there is sufficient evidence available on record that the decision taken by the State of Punjab is based on cogent material. Mr. Mehta only made potshots against the State of Punjab and newspapers reported those. We don’t care about Ansari. We have said on oath that we have nothing to do with it. It’s UP’s problem that they allowed a serious criminal to make phone calls and make threats.”

He also commented that Article 32 is the ‘heart and soul’ of the Indian Constitution. However, a state using the scope of this article to take action against another state ‘would completely turn the scheme upside-down, he stated.

In similar lines, Adv. Rohatgi, too, asserted that a State cannot move the Top Court under Article 32. The Article is for citizens to enforce their fundamental rights in case of violation.

“There is an investigation going on firstly. Second, it can only be moved by the Attorney-General or the party interested. AG has not moved, and the party interested can either be the State of Punjab or be accused. State of UP cannot be a party interested. The law only concerns contesting parties,” said Rohatgi.

Rohatgi further stated that transfer petitions should be filed only in grace cases and that Uttar Pradesh Government’s move was politically motivated.

SG Tushar Mehta filed a rejoinder on behalf of Uttar Pradesh and stated that a State can seek justice as it represents the citizens. “I agree that the State does not have fundamental rights, but the State as prosecution represents the citizens and victims and can espouse for justice on their behalf. The State assumes the position of the victim. The test that is required to be administered is the test in furtherance of larger public interest,” Mehta submitted.

The Uttar Pradesh Government had filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court seeking directions to transfer the Bahujan Samaj Party MLA, Mukhtar Ansari to Banda Jail in Uttar Pradesh.

From the other side, the MLA has expressed his apprehensions that his life is under threat in Uttar Pradesh and requested to attend the proceedings via video conferencing. To the above contentions, SG Mehta alleged that the apprehension cannot be an answer to him happily staying in another State.

After hearing all the parties, the Supreme Court reserved its order in the matter.

Uttar Pradesh had earlier moved the Apex Court to take custody of Ansari by transferring him to Ghaziabad Jail in Uttar Pradesh from the Ropar Jail, Punjab.

It stated that it is intending to proceed with the trials of more than 10 criminal cases against him. All of these are serious charges and FIRs are registered under the Gangster Act and the Indian Penal Code.

The Government alleged that the BSP MLA managed to escape around 26 warrants issued by the Prayagraj Court citing medical reasons like diabetes, hypertension, and allergies. The Uttar Pradesh Government, in its plea, stated that the MLA was “absolutely fit” when he was leaving to the Mohali Court.

The sitting BSP MLA is in the Ropar Jail of Punjab in remand for 2 years for charges which Uttar Pradesh claims to be a “minor” one. Neither a charge sheet has been registered by the Punjab Police against the MLA nor have they submitted any report in this regard.

It is to be noted that Ansari was taken under the custody of Mohali Court in Punjab without the permission of the Prayagraj Court.

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