Monday, May 27, 2024

Editorial

The Truth I speak, pardon me my Lords.

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | March 07, 2023 10:10 PM

By Bir Devinder Singh*
Sirs, I fully understand the nuance and implied implication of the proverb, that the ‘Truth is always bitter and intolerable’ and I have suffered its consequences immensely. But my passionate rendezvous with the ‘Truth’, always determinedly encourages me to be more and more audacious with the truth, embedded with the truthful living, aside its cost or consequences.

George Orwell’s quote, “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act” has emboldened my endeavor to address the ‘Lords of Justice’.

The other day, a very honorable ‘Double Bench’ of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in their ‘Judicious pronouncement’ has awarded six months imprisonment to an Ex Deputy Superintendent of the Police for speaking the ‘bitter truth’ before the Majesty of the Court, but in a weirdly inappropriate manner, which the Court measured incongruous to the dignity of the court, hence the charges of committing the contempt of the court were framed. The absurd one act play came to an abrupt end with the ‘Double Bench’ awarding ‘excessively harsh punishment’, for committing the ‘Contempt of the Court’. But the logic of an inexorable ‘core issue’ lost in the din, which is pending before the High Court for almost five years, for want of ‘Judicial Perusal’ .

The pursuing curiosity of the millions of people of Punjab is undoubtedly understandable and their quest to know the ‘Truth’ behind the arrival of drugs in Punjab is entirely justifiable. It is unfortunate that once a number one State of India, Punjab has now earned the disparaging notoriety of being referred to as one of the three ‘Drug States of India’.

I am privileged to believe that ‘Lords of Justice’, may be well aware of the ‘ Factuality of the historical Truth’ revealed in the pages of the Indian History, that Punjab has always been on the forefront to defeat and chase away the foreign invaders, with ovational fervidity and with the chants of ever inspiring Sikh sloganeering of “ Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akaal” meaning thereby, Blessed shall be he, who shouts; ‘ hail the True and timeless one’ and thus making the invaders run, incoherently with fear-provoking hissing sounds . And in addition to this the leading role Punjab has played in the freedom struggle against the ‘Britishers’ and made innumerable sacrifices to win freedom for India Is also written in Golden words in the history of freedom movement .

Esteemed lords, now I beseechingly solicit your kind attention towards a terribly disturbing aspect of ‘Falling Punjab’. The wails of luckless families of Punjab and heart slitting weep cries of hapless mothers, widows, daughters and thousands of innocent children, quite ignorant of the horrors they are bound to face by losing their bread winners to the menace of drugs, impelled my conscious to take up this issue effectively at an appropriate level.

Sirs, I agree that the Drug abuse is a global phenomenon, affecting almost every country and its extent and characteristics differ from region to region but the concern of my disquiet is precisely Punjab specific.

As per a research study, the magnitude of the drug trade in Punjab is estimated annually to the tune of Rs. 7, 500 crore. Another study by Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Chandigarh has made alarming revelations, that more than 3 Million people, meaning thereby that 15.4 per cent of the population of Punjab, are currently consuming toxic drugs. The Punjab police In August 2022 arrested 2, 205 smugglers, including 260 top criminals. A total 1, 730 FIRs were registered, of which 145 are related to commercial quantity. The total 9, 972 of FIRs have been registered under the NDPS Act in Punjab and Punjab is number three in the list of top three drug abused States.

In 2014, a retired IPS officer of the Punjab Cadre, claimed that many politicians were involved in the ‘drug racket’, either directly or through their cohorts with the active connivance of the police with the backing of some top police officials, who were sitting at the helms of the State Police Headquarter. The accusation of the former police officer came true when Mr. Jagdish Bhola an Arjuna Awardee and a serving DSP of Punjab Police was arrested in the Drug case, later an Inspector Mr. Inderjit Singh posted in Tarn Tarn District was also arrested by the STF headed by Mr. Harpreet Singh Sidhu IPS (ADGP). An FIR No. 1 was registered on 12th June 2017 at Special Police Station of STF at Mohali and huge recovery of drugs and illicit arms were made from him and he spilled a plethora of beans leading to unbelievable conduits of the drug trade in Punjab. Despite forming the Special Task Force (STF) to curb the menace of drugs and because of the strong nexus and well-knitted cobweb of these nexus the Punjab Police failed to destroy their network and it still continues to haunt the State.

The bold and an astounding commitment made by Capt. Amarinder SIngh at Bathinda by pointing his both hands towards ‘Damdama Sahib’ and by holding ‘Gutka Sahib’ prior to Punjab Assembly general elections 2017, he swore that if he is returned to power in 2017 in Punjab he would break the back-bone of the Drug trade in Punjab, within one week. But all his brags proved futile and gradually went haywire and drug trade flourished multi-dimensional, unobstructed in Punjab during his regime.

It is pertinent to mention here that on December 15, 2017, Punjab and Haryana High Court suo moto constituted a SIT to probe the role of then SSP Moga in a drug case. While passing the orders, a division bench headed by Justice Surya Kant asked The Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by DG (HRD) Mr. S. Chattopadhyaya to file the status report to the High court in a sealed cover by January 31, 2015. The bench also made it clear that the SIT would only report to the High Court directly.

The above explicit directions of the High Court aroused the hopes and raised very genuine expectation in the minds of the people of the State that the matter would now reach its logical conclusion and the nexus of the drug mafias, operating in Punjab would be exposed, and the mafia dons would be taken to task and will also be brought to justice with a deemed alacrity and will power. But the high hopes of the Public were shattered sooner than later and the end result was dogmatically different from the expectations. Ironically, the ongoing investigation by the SIT headed by Mr. S. Chattopadhyaya was abruptly closed on March 15, 2018 under the orders of the High Court and the SIT was directed to submit its final report to the High Court by 9th of May 2018. Surprisingly, even after the expiration of the five years period no tangible action appears to have been initiated on the reports, submitted by the Special Investigation Team to the High Court in sealed envelopes. Much water has flown down the river in five years; the audacity of hope has almost diminished. The traumatized victim families who suffered the mayhem of drugs in Punjab stand completely devastated, they feel betrayed and lost all hopes, because of the inexplicable delay in opening the ‘sealed envelopes’ . The revealing truth has not surfaced so far nor there seems to be any hope; in view of the dogmatic view-point and inflexible attitude of the judiciary. The million dollar question remains unanswered and keeps haunting the Public mind as to what purpose and objectivity these sealed envelopes are serving? And who is the end beneficiary if the sealed reports, if not opened?

The System of Indian Jurisprudence, sworn to the Philosophy of Justice was the only hope left, if even that citadel is crumbling, reasons best known to the ‘Lords of Justice’ then what else is left to hope in such a wilderness? The two other important wings of the Governance ; Legislature and the Executive have already proven their incompetence to deal with the havoc of drugs in Punjab, reason their clandestine support to the conduits of drug mafia and hence their survival and undeterred sustenance .

I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luthar King’s time immemorial quote that the ‘Justice delayed is justice denied. The legal maxim “Justice delayed is justice denied” can be completely related and aptly applicable to the present scenario in Punjab. But it certainly does not mean that justice be hurried and consequently buried, Justice must be rendered in a reasonable time frame and it must be manifestly done.

Dr. Martin Luther King also said and I quote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere”. Therefore I wish to beseech the kind attention of the ‘Lords of Justice’ towards the ‘Truth’ of the matter.

Sirs, I was not so privileged to be educated in convent Schools, because of my humble rural background but I have tried utmost and taken every care, on the basis of my learning of the English language that no such inappropriate word, phrase or sentence is used in the entire expression that may offend the Majesty of justice. At the same time I would also not like to be seen by the ill-fated people of Punjab, that while raising the sensitive issue, my tone and tenor was seen to be shuddering or compromising anywhere.

I am fully conscious and aware of the fact that the constitution of India has vested inherent and unfettered powers to the Judiciary of India to ensure the independence of Justice. And the High Courts or the Supreme Court of India reserve the right to take suo moto notice of any happening, causing agony to general public or any Honorable Judge or the bench of the High Courts or the Supreme Court of India on its own motion may take cognizance of any such matter they deem appropriate.

My lords, if I am precisely correct in my submission then I would entreat the Majesty of Justice; The Punjab and Haryana High Court to call its own motion and order to open the sealed envelopes to reveal the truth, hidden therein, which is enjoying the mysterious safe refuge in the custody of the Court for so long. By respecting and honoring the legitimate democratic entitlement of the People of Punjab, to know the ‘Truth’ as to who conspired to ruin Punjab through the menace of Drugs?

Sirs, it’s high time to demystify the mystery, it’s also the time to unmask the ‘faces’ of the most Machiavellian manipulators that may include Polity or the Official hierarchy of the State. Let the wailing families, who lost their bread winners to drugs, find some succor to their perpetual and unbroken pain, oozing out of their unhealed wounds, perpetrated by untimely bereavements; curtsy ! Complete decadence of lofty values and dissipating human behaviors.

I conclude beseechingly with T.S. Eliot’s prophetic warning from his masterpiece, The Waste Land:

Hurry up, please it is time
Hurry up, please it is time

The author Bir Devinder Singh is Former Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

Email : birdevinders@gmail.com

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