Punjab drug racket: Is the FIR against Bikram Singh Majithia eight years too late?

27 December 2021
Former Punjab cabinet minister and Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Bikram Singh Majithia addressing a farmers’ protest in December 2020. Nearly eight years after his name came up in the infamous Bhola drugs case, Majithia was booked under the NDPS act on 21 December 2021.
NARINDER NANU / AFP / Getty Images
Former Punjab cabinet minister and Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Bikram Singh Majithia addressing a farmers’ protest in December 2020. Nearly eight years after his name came up in the infamous Bhola drugs case, Majithia was booked under the NDPS act on 21 December 2021.
NARINDER NANU / AFP / Getty Images

Nearly eight years after his name first came up in a multi-crore drugs case, Bikram Singh Majithia—Punjab’s revenue minister under the Shiromani Akali Dal regime, scion of the powerful Majithia family, younger brother of the Bathinda member of parliament Harsimrat Kaur Badal and brother-in-law to Sukhbir Singh Badal, the head of the SAD—was finally named in a first-information report on 20 December, in offenses under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Majithia’s name came up in the 2013 Bhola drugs case, a money laundering and drugs investigation pegged at Rs 6,000 crore by the Enforcement Directorate. He was subsequently named in a report by an anti-drugs Special Task Force formed by the Congress government in Punjab in 2017. The STF report, submitted in 2018 under sealed cover, had concluded that “there is sufficient evidence on record to further investigate the role of Bikram Singh Majithia.”

The FIR relies heavily on the investigation by the ED into the Bhola drugs case and the report of the anti-drug STF from 2018. In a submission to the high court regarding the Bhola case, the NGO Punjab Human Rights Organisation had suggested that action was delayed on the case because of Majithia’s alleged involvement. “The aspect of international link in this scam was again buried and involvement of Satta, Pindi and Laddi was not allowed to come on record,” the PHRO stated, referring to the Canadians accused in the case. “There is not a single word regarding these drug peddlers in it and the only reason is to shut the door on action against Majithia.”

Sarabjeet Singh, who works as the principal investigator for the PHRO, pointed out that even with this FIR, Majithia had not been not named in any existing investigations, as would have otherwise been the procedure. “In the Rs 6,000-crore Bhola drug case, multiple FIRs were already registered, investigated by the police, and cases were decided by the courts. It is not appropriate to register fresh case, rather it is required to approach the court for permission to further investigate the case,” Sarabjit said. “It should be a matter of investigation—why were the names of drug peddlers Satta, Pindi and Laadi not allowed to come on record of police files during Akali regime?”

On 21 December 2021, the union home ministry issued a look-out circular against Majithia. The LOC, issued by the immigration bureau on the request of the Punjab police, is aimed at preventing Majithia from fleeing the country. On 24 December, a special court rejected Majithia’s request for anticipatory bail.

The FIR against Majithia was lodged by the crime branch of the Punjab police, in Mohali, under the NDPS Act. He stands accused of financing drug production, for knowingly allowing his car and home to be used for drug-related offences, and for being party to a criminal conspiracy. The FIR notes that between January 2004 and December 2014, Majithia was closely connected to alleged international drug peddlers, and had provided them with accommodation and security.

Jatinder Kaur Tur is a senior journalist with two decades of experience with various national English-language dailies, including the Indian Express, the Times of India, the Hindustan Times and Deccan Chronicle.

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