A pair of Former Congress Ministers of Punjab are at the Patiala Central Jail. One is an accused and the other participant in the case.
The witness is a former Punjab Congress president and an ex-minister of the former Congress cabinet, Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been in prison for the last 5 years in an alleged road rage case. The accused is a previous Congress minister and ex-MLA from Ludhiana West Bharat Bhushan Ashu. For a long time the case has been in limbo since Sidhu has not appeared before the court, despite numerous summons for a variety of reasons, ranging from security to health.
While Ashu is being held in a prison for an alleged foodgrains tender fraud, Sidhu is a witness in another case brought by Ashu at the court in a local Ludhiana tribunal by a former police officer Balwinder Singh Sekhon. The former official of the police claims Ashu was harassing and intimidating him in his investigation regarding Ludhiana’s CLU (change of use for land) scam in Ludhiana.
Ashu was accused of assisting the private builder obtain CLU certification, using fake documents in connection with a residential flat project of more than 70 crore as an element of the Amarinder Singh Cabinet. Sidhu was the Minister of Local Bodies at the time and directed the investigation. Sekhon submitted a report to Sidhu’s office in the year 2019 which he claims led to the arrest of Ashu as well as others involved in the alleged fraud. The report has since gone “missing” in Sidhu’s office. Local Bodies Department.
Sidhu was appointed as a witness, after Sekhon said to the court that the photocopy of the investigation report and Sidhu was able to prove the authenticity of the report.
But his former ministry, who is known for his unpredictable behaviour is refusing to physically be present. Although initially he argued through an attorney that he shouldn’t be called as a witness for any reason but he later claimed the he was willing to appear via video-conferencing however only if the security insurance, similar that of the Z+ category of cover that he had earlier received was restored, as he considered it a “threat to his life”.
The the rapper Sidhu the Moosewala’s murder and attack on the Ludhiana court, Sidhu has stated a variety of reasonsin his numerous requests to the court and in his numerous applications to Patiala prison superintendent. Three of his applications for the court in his local area, a revised request to the court of session, as well as another one in the High Court, have been dismissed.
The following day, Sidhu’s attorney Manjit Singh Khaira announced that the High Court had finally allowed Sidhu’s request to appear before the Ludhiana court through video-conferencing on the 28th of October.
In one of his letters to the jail’s chief, Sidhu wrote that his Z+ security insurance was taken away when he was sentenced to prison. “… We must take what we can from the Sidhu Moosewala trial.. Better to prevent and plan instead of repenting and repairing …”, the damage,” he wrote. “I will never risk my life until the said security is restored… to facilitate the court I am ready to appear via video-conferencing….”
In a separate letter to the jail’s superintendent He also voiced his concerns about security. “Nobody is taking responsibility… everyone takes the blame …,” Sidhu said in his application, requesting security in the event of a court appearance.
He added that he’s never been unable to stand as witnesses before a judge. “… however, I’m not being sorry… To appear without announcing your presence in the courtroom in which (a) bomb explosion was committed is a huge chance… Do you think someone will accept the blame?”
In September 19 denying Sidhu’s claims citing security risk in the Ludhiana court, the Ludhiana court ruled: “Security threat argument is not a valid argument since if he is able to visit PGI for treatment and not have any Security protection or security cover, he may also be in the court ….”
On the 20th of October, a day before the final court hearing Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who had won Sidhu’s praise as a “receptive and non-arrogant CM” was able to step in. “Navjot Singh Sidhu Ji will testify in court in Ludhiana next week. The court has issued orders to give him safety,” Mann tweeted.
On the 21st of October, Sidhu again skipped the hearing, despite getting classified as “unwell” by the jail doctors.
Navjot Singh Sidhu is a victim of misuse of the canteen card’ and a fellow inmate is shifted from barracks
In addition, there’s not much affection among Sidhu as well as Ashu. Following the news of the CLU scam was reported, CLU scam was exposed in the year 2019 Sidhu has reportedly said: “Mantri ho ya santri Sidhu, sabko tokunga (Be it the guard or a minister I will not be lenient to anyone).” At the time, CM Amarinder Singh had defended Ashu in the Assembly and stated that it was not his intention to take any unilateral decision against the minister if there is no evidence.
Sekhon was later dismissed as DSP because he was accused of sending abusive messages to Ashu. In the Assembly elections this year, Sekhon was a former police officer who was a candidate against Sidhu of Amritsar East, and Ashu from Ludhiana West “not to win, but rather to expose corruption of the ministers”. As part of the AAP election sweep election the two Sidhu and Ashu were defeated.
Whatever happens in the outside of the jail, Ashu and Sidhu rarely meet close to each other in the prison, according to an official in the senior ranks of the Patiala jail. “They are housed in separate cells that are quite different from each other. They do not talk to each other.