Monday, January 21, 2008

Pataudi’s bail plea rejected
May move Supreme Court
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 17
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today refused anticipatory bail to former Indian cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and one of his accomplices in a case relating to alleged poaching of a black buck and some other animals.

Mr Pataudi and seven others were booked under the Wildlife Act following recovery of carcasses of a black buck and two rabbits from their vehicle on June 3 in Jhajjar.

Pronouncing the judgement after arguments lasting over four hours, Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla said, "Sorry gentlemen. Petitions dismissed."

The marathon hearing saw counsels for Mr Pataudi and his co-accused, Mr Shashi Singh, putting all their legal skills to use to convince the court about the bonafide of their clients.

Punjab Advocate-General and renowned criminal lawyer R.S. Cheema was specially drafted to present the applicants' today. However, in the end the combined courtroom skills of Mr Cheema, Mr Dinesh Mathur, Mr Anand Chhibbar and some other lawyers failed to convince the court to allow the applications for pre-arrest bail.

After the judgement, Mr Mathur told The Tribune that they would challenge the High Court order in the Supreme Court after consulting Mr Pataudi and Mr Shashi Singh.

Today, Mr Cheema reiterated the applicants' stand that no purpose would be served by arresting them. He also questioned the power of the police in investigating the case.

"They (police) made no recoveries after they arrested Mr Madan Singh, another accused. In fact, he is now on regular bail. The applicants were allegedly caught on June 3 along with the carcasses of the animals. They cooperated with the police and were then let off. Unless there is something new to be recovered, custodial interrogation will serve no purpose except bring bad name to these people," Mr Cheema said.

He also questioned the legality of the supplementary disclosure statement filed by the police on June 6 as also the statement of Mr Madan Singh, co-accused, who had named Mr Pataudi.

The court was also assured that Mr Pataudi and Mr Shashi Singh are ready to join investigations, if and when required.

However, rebutting the stand taken by the counsels for the applicants, the counsel for Haryana, Assistant Advocate-General Ajay Gulati, maintained that the police had ample power to investigate the case.

He pointed out that despite three notices issued by the police to Mr Pataudi to appear before the court, he has not done so. He said custodial interrogation was necessary to know more about the case, including ownership of the Maruti Gypsy, seized by the police, and the gun used in the offence.

He also submitted the entire record along with an affidavit of the police officer in the court. He said that in his disclosure statement to the police, Mr Madan Singh, had claimed that Mr Pataudi had fired at the black buck.

Counsel for the All India Bishnoi Mahasabha, Mr K.D.S. Hooda, also opposed the applications, saying that if the accused are granted anticipatory bail, they will interfere with the investigations. He also alleged that so far the Wildlife Department had done nothing in the case.

He said had animal rights activist Naresh Kadyan not acted, the case would have been hushed up. "Police attitude is proved by the fact that no case under the Arms Act has been registered so far. The gun, which is in the name of Mr Pataudi's daughter, was found along with other material," he added.

Mr Madan Pal, counsel for Mr Kadyan, also opposed the bail pleas. He said a clear case is made out against the accused and anticipatory bail should not be granted to them.

After hearing the counsels, Mr Justice Bhalla reserved the judgement for some time. He finally, delivered the judgment around 5 pm.

Meanwhile, the police have also promised to intensify their efforts to locate and arrest Mr Pataudi and other accused. Sub-Inspector Kaptan Singh of Jhajjar police, who was present in the court during the hearing, said the future course of action would be chalked out by the senior district police officers.

Maneka demands arrest of Pataudi
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 6
Animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi today called up Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and demanded the arrest of former cricket captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi for allegedly killing black buck and wild hare.

Founder of People for Animals, a voluntary organisation committed to animal welfare, Maneka Gandhi told TNS that she expressed anguish over the killing of black-buck. She said that the Haryana Chief Minister assured her that punitive action would be taken in the case. Gandhi alleged that Pataudi and his wife, Sharmila Tagore who is also the Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification, have been hunting and killing animals for years. She drew attention to a case where Pataudi and his wife had killed 2000 birds in a sanctuary outside Srinagar.

“At that time they were saved by the then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah under the false premise that the Wildlife Protection Act does not apply to J&K. Their son, Saif Ali khan was with Salman Khan when the latter was caught hunting black bucks. Last month, at a book release function, they said that they were very fond of hunting.”

Gandhi wondered why the Haryana government has booked a case of criminal exhumation against Naresh Kumar Kadyan, Chairman of the Haryana chapter of the PFA.

Pataudi case: Get serious, activists tell Haryana Govt
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 17
The seriousness, or the lack of it, with which the Haryana Government treated the anticipatory bail applications of the two high-profile accused in the black buck poaching case was evident at today's hearing of the applications.

While the two accused-applicant — former Indian cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and industrialist Shashi Singh —had fielded legal eagles like Mr R.S. Cheema and Mr Dinesh Mathur to argue their case, Haryana was represented by a sole Assistant Advocate-General.

This remark of a lawyer not connected with the case immediately after the pronouncement of the judgement says it all: "God helped them".

Though all praise must go to the young Assistant AG for keeping his nerves in a jam-packed courtroom, the government seemed to have given up even before the hearing began. "Couldn't they (Haryana Government) have deputed at least an Additional AG, if not the AG himself, for the case?" was the question on everybody's mind, including almost two dozen reporters covering the hearing. And, not one to hold himself, animal rights activist Naresh Kumar Kadyan, who was instrumental in exposing police laxity in booking the accused, demanded the transfer of Jhajjar Superintendent of Police Hanif Qureshi.

"The government and the police were going all-out to allow Mr Pataudi and Mr Shashi Singh remain out of the lock-up. In such a high-profile case, shouldn't they have fielded some senior lawyer? Even now, I am not sure what turn the investigation will take," he told The Tribune.

Another person sore with the government attitude was Mr Darshan Singh Bishnoi, spokesperson of All India Bishnoi Mahasabha. The mahasabha was among the parties opposing the bail applications in the court.

"We are happy with the High Court order. But, it is for the government and the police to ensure that the investigations are not derailed. The public will be keeping a close watch on their actions," he said.

Animal trophies adorn Pataudi palace
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 14
Former Indian cricket team captain and accused in the black buck poaching case at Jhajjar, Mr Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, is in possession of several wildlife trophies, which adorn the walls of his Ibrahim Palace in Pataudi village.

Wildlife officials in the state say he is in possession of over 52 animal trophies — most being of protected species of deer. While 40 trophies have been registered with the Forest Department, 12 of these trophies are unaccounted for. Sources say as to how these animal trophies were procured by him, will now be verified. The Haryana Police, accompanied by wildlife officials, had recently raided Ibrahim Palace and found animal trophies displayed on the walls of his house.

Officials say after the Government of India made it mandatory that all wildlife trophies, animal skins, products made from protected animals etc., be declared with the Wildlife wing, Mr Patuadi had declared most of his trophies, claiming that these were inherited and certificates of possession were later issued to him.

However, he could not establish the ownership and source of 12 of these trophies, though he had declared these trophies to the Wildlife wing of the Forest Department. Mr Naresh Kadian, wildlife activist who brought to the fore the poaching case of black buck — a Schedule I animal — by Mr Pataudi and seven others, demanded that the antecedents of these trophies should be checked. “These trophies could have been procured as a result of his passion for hunting,” he alleged.

Mr Kadian said based on his complaints, the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW), Haryana, had started conducting an inquiry into the episode today. The Divisional Wildlife Warden, Rohtak, District Wildlife Warden, Jhajjar, Inspector Wildlife, Jhajjar , and the veterinary Inspector who conducted the post mortem of the black buck and hares recovered from Mr Pataudi and his accomplices today appeared before the CWW
Mr Naresh Kumar Kadyan and his counsel in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday in Chandigarh.
Mr Naresh Kumar Kadyan and his counsel in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday in Chandigarh. — Tribune photo by Pradeep Tiwari

Chandigarh, June 14
Without him, the alleged poaching case involving former Indian cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi might not have hit headlines. Without him, the case may well have been received a silent burial. After all, it was his persistence that built public pressure on the police to book Mr Pataudi and others for the alleged crime.

But, today, he himself is wanted by the police for his role, controversial some might say, in the digging of the carcasses of the animals allegedly killed by Pataudi and his accomplices and taking them to the Delhi zoo for a post-mortem examination.

Meet, Mr Naresh Kumar Kadyan, Chairman of the Haryana chapter of the People for Animals. Though he claims to be on the run, evading the police who, he adds, is working overtime to arrest him, Mr Kadyan turns up in the most convenient of the places.

If some days ago, he was photographed at a Panchkula police station, today he was present at the Punjab and Haryana High Court, where hearing of Pataudi’s pre-arrest bail plea was taking place.

“I may be arrested anytime. But, I am not worried. Whatever the police may say, the truth is that they are under intense public pressure,” he told The Tribune. Incidentally, Mr Kadyan had also moved the High Court for anticipatory bail. Some objection in the petition led to the withdrawal of the same and he is still to file a fresh writ.

Claiming that he is being pressured into getting off the case, Mr Kadyan says he has also been offered huge sums of money. “But, I told them to do whatever they could. I will see to it that this case reaches its logical conclusion,” he asserts.

He maintains that he was forced to intervene in the matter as the matter was likely to be hushed up. “Within days, the black buck would have been replaced with a blue bull. Tell me, why were the accused not arrested immediately after the recovery of the carcasses? Why wasn’t a post-mortem examination got done?” he asks.

Mr Kadyan also alleges that Mr Pataudi and his friends have been regularly coming to Haryana on a shooting expedition. “If they (wildlife authorities) visit his house in New Delhi, they will find many animal trophies,” he alleges.

But, didn’t he take the law into is own hands by “stealing government property” and obstructing government duty? “Whose crime is bigger, mine or theirs? I did what had to be done and I don’t repent,” he says.