In a big reprieve for Varun Gandhi, an advisory board in Uttar Pradesh on Friday held as invalid the young BJP leader's detention under the stringent NSA for his alleged hate speeches in a ruling seen as a rebuff to Chief Minister Mayawati.
The Board said it did not find "plausible and convincing" grounds for the National Security Act being invoked against Varun nor was it satisfied by the explanation given by the Pilibhit District Magistrate.
"NSA invoked against Varun Gandhi has been held invalid by the Board," UP Home Secretary Javed Ahmad told PTI.
The UP government has decided to challenge the recommendation of the Board in the Supreme Court.
"The state government will challenge the advisory board's decision before the Supreme Court," Additional Cabinet Secretary Vijay Shankar Pandey told PTI here.
But senior Supreme Court lawyer Ram Jethmalani said the order was binding on the state government.
29-year-old Varun, who is BJP's Lok Sabha candidate from Pilibhit in UP, is currently on parole following a Supreme Court order after remaining in jail for nearly three weeks. He was released from Etah jail on April 16. His parole expires on May 14.
Varun was let off by a three-member Advisory board headed by senior judge of the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court Justice Pradeep Kant which went into the maintainability of Varun's detention by the UP government under the NSA imposed on March 29. Varun had also personally appeared before the Board.
BJP welcomed the order saying its stand that slapping of NSA on Varun was politically motivated while his supporters broke into celebration in Pilibhit.
Varun had appeared in person before the advisory board on April 28 and explained that the CD on the basis of which an FIR was lodged against him was doctored.
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said the Board order "badly exposed" the UPA government and its vote-bank politics.
Congress downplayed the order saying the matter had lost its relevance after Varun gave an undertaking to be "on a good behaviour under a Supreme Court monitored tight leash". Sibal also said the Centre had nothing to do with UP government's decision to slap the stringent act on Varun.
Varun, who is on parole granted by the Supreme Court, was detained under the NSA on charges of inciting communal passion by making provocative and inflammatory speeches during election meetings in Pilibhit on March seven and eight.
Varun alleged before the Board that the NSA was invoked against him with a political motive to sabotage his electoral debut but this was refuted by the UP government. Pilibhit is going to polls in the fifth phase on May 13.
FIRs were registered against Varun for allegedly delivering inflammatory speeches in Dalchand locality of Pilibhit, about 300 km from Lucknow on March 7 and in Barkheda village on March 8.
After surrendering in Pilibhit, where his supporters had violent clash with police personnel on March 28, the state government invoked NSA on Varun for creating law and order problems the next day.
Varun was later shifted to Etah jail due to security reasons from where he was released on April 16 after Supreme Court granted him parole till May 1, which was later extended till May 14. He had filed his nominations on April 22.