Punjab ‘defending criminal Ansari’, U.P. tells Supreme Court

Seeks custody of politician now lodged in a district jail in Punjab.

The Uttar Pradesh government accused its Punjab counterpart in the Supreme Court on Monday of “vociferously” defending politician Mukhtar Ansari, who is in Rupnagar district jail in connection with an alleged extortion case.

Appearing before a Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Uttar Pradesh, said the Punjab government is “supporting a gangster”. Mr. Mehta said Ansari, a BSP MLA from Mau constituency, is accused in cases involving several heinous offences.

“The State (Punjab) says Mukhtar Ansari is suffering from depression. Ansari says he belongs to a family of freedom fighters. The point is there are several cases of heinous offences lodged against him (in Uttar Pradesh). He is a gangster. He is happy in jail in Punjab,” Mr. Mehta submitted.

“Why should the State of Punjab support Mukhtar Ansari,” the Solicitor General asked.

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by Uttar Pradesh seeking a direction to Punjab and Rupnagar Jail authority to immediately hand over the custody of Ansari to District Jail, Banda. It has also sought a direction to transfer the criminal proceedings and trial in the extortion case in Punjab to the special court in Allahabad. Ansari has been lodged in Rupnagar in Punjab since January 2019.

The counsel appearing for Ansari said he has also filed a petition seeking transfer of case from Uttar Pradesh to Punjab and that plea should also be heard along with this matter.

The Solicitor General however dismissed the transfer petition as a “delay tactic”.

The court scheduled the case for hearing on February 24.

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