Former Punjab legislator and Congress candidate Sukhpal Singh Khaira was granted bail by Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday. He was arrested in connection with a money laundering case on November 11.
The two-time 57-year-old firebrand legislator is lodged in a Patiala jail. He is contesting from Bholath in Punjab’s Kapurthala district.
After hearing counsels of both at length, Justice Sureshwar Thakur allowed Khaira’s plea, who moved the high court on December 13.
Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) special court rejected his bail application, observing that the investigation was going on and the applicant is an influential person who may try to interfere with the investigation.
The ED claimed that he was an accomplice of drug case convicts and fake passport racketeers.
Responding to granting of bail, Khaira’s advocate son Mehtab said: “We have won 50 per cent battle against false case by the ED and the BJP. Other half would be won in people’s court on February 20 as he is totally innocent.”
The ED arrested him on November 11, 2021 under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). On November 19, he was sent to judicial custody.
Khaira, who rose to fame by defeating Akali Dal leader Bibi Jagir Kaur, the first woman to be elected SGPC president, from Bholath in the 2007 assembly elections, had resigned from AAP citing the “dictatorial” attitude of party chief Arvind Kejriwal in January 2019 and floated his own outfit, the Punjab Ekta Party.
He later re-joined the Congress.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has now pitted Bibi Jagir Kaur as the party candidate against Khaira.
Earlier in March last year, the central probe agency had carried out searches at eight locations linked to Khaira in Chandigarh, and also at the property of his son-in-law in Delhi, in connection with the case.
According to sources, the central probe agency has unearthed a Rs 3.5 crore money trail in this connection.
However, Khaira, who started his political career as a panchayat member from Ramgarh village in Kapurthala in 1992, had denied any wrongdoing. His counsel had said the raid was conducted because Khaira supported the farmers’ agitation.