Bikram Singh Majithia had appeared before a special investigation team
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia who faces a drugs case cannot be arrested till Monday, the Supreme Court has said. The deadline set by the Punjab and Haryana High Court that had allowed Mr Majithia's petition against being arrested ended today. The Akali leader then approached the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the matter on Monday.
The Supreme Court also told the Punjab government not to take any action against Mr Majithia, 46, in the meantime.
The Akali Dal leader was charged under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act last month.
A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli took note of the submissions by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Mr Majithia, that the plea seeking protection from arrest needed an urgent hearing as the accused has been facing "political vendetta".
"This is political vendetta. He is called to the police station. This is all due to the election fever," said Mr Rohatgi.
"Is it election fever or election virus? All are rushing to this court," the bench said.
Mr Majithia has alleged Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa of putting into motion a conspiracy against him.
The Akali Dal leader's lawyer said the high court gave him safe passage from arrest so that he can go to the Supreme Court. The Punjab Police, however, knows that a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court, so they are trying to arrest Mr Majithia, Mr Rohatgi said.
Senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for the Punjab government, said Mr Majithia has gone into hiding and he is only appearing before the Supreme Court through his lawyer.
"Is it fair Mr Chidambaram, when you know that his petition is going to be listed?" the Chief Justice of India said. "Tell your government to not do anything. We will list on Monday."
The former Punjab minister was charged on the basis of a 2018 report into a drugs ring in Punjab. The report was filed by anti-drug special task force chief Harpreet Singh Sidhu in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2018.
A 49-page first information report, or FIR, was filed by the Punjab crime branch.