Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Thursday accused the previous Congress government of providing a “comfortable stay” to UP gangster-politician Mukhtar Ansari in the Rupnagar jail and said he is seeking advice on recovering Rs 55 lakh legal fee from the then ministers.
"We are asking legal experts from whom this recovery is to be made. We will not pay from the state exchequer," Mann said at a rally in Jalandhar.
Uttar Pradesh Police had approached the Supreme Court to get the custody of Ansari, who remained in a jail in Rupnagar (formerly Ropar) from January 2019 to April 2021. Awarding his custody to UP Police, the top court had said it was being denied to them on trivial grounds under the guide of medical issues.
Ansari was kept in Punjab in an extortion case in Mohali and was later moved to a jail in Banda in UP.
Without naming Ansari, Mann said in a tweet in Punjabi, "A UP criminal was kept in Ropar jail with facilities... (He was) not produced despite issuance of warrants 48 times, expensive lawyers were engaged at a cost of Rs 55 lakh. I have returned the file of expenditure. Thinking of recovering this expenditure from the then ministers on whose orders this decision was taken."
Mann said this “open plundering" of taxpayers' money cannot be tolerated at any cost.
Apart from ensuring a comfortable stay, the then government ensured this "hardcore criminal" does not face any difficulty in the jail and escapes the legal action against him, he said in a statement later.
"The benevolence of the previous rulers towards this dangerous criminal can be judged from the fact that though 48 warrants were issued against him but the government did not bother to produce him,” Mann said.
This “atrocious loot” of public money was totally unwarranted and undesirable, he added.
While hearing the Uttar Pradesh government's plea seeking custody of Ansari in March 2021, the Supreme Court had noted that the former MLA from Mau was involved in several cases of attempt to murder, murder, cheating and conspiracy apart from offences under the Gangsters Act lodged in UP.
The court was also informed by the UP government that between February 14, 2019 and February 14, 2020, Ansari's custody was denied to the state police by the Punjab jail authorities 26 times mainly on medical grounds referring to diabetes mellitus, skin allergy, hypertension, backache and throat infection.
-With PTI Input