UP government to soon move special court for permission to drop cases against BJP leaders
The government has already taken the call to withdraw cases against around five dozen Muzaffarnagar riots accused. It has been claiming that the cases registered against BJP leaders were politically motivated. The court too has already granted the permission for withdrawing some of these cases.Updated: Aug 15, 2019 06:48 IST
The Yogi Adityanath government may soon move the special MP/MLA court to seek its permission for withdrawal from prosecution against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including legislators Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana and Member of Parliament Sanjiv Baliyan who are among those accused of the September 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.
While Rana is a minister in the UP government, Baliyan, who won the Muzaffarnagar Lok Sabha seat with a record margin, is a minister in the Modi government at the Centre.
As per a Supreme Court ruling, cases against lawmakers are tried at special courts set up in states. In UP, there is one such court in Prayagraj.
The government has already taken the call to withdraw cases against around five dozen Muzaffarnagar riots accused. It has been claiming that the cases registered against BJP leaders were politically motivated. The court too has already granted the permission for withdrawing some of these cases.
Principal secretary, law and legal remembrance, Dinesh Kumar Singh, told HT, “Of the 76 Muzaffarnagar riots-related cases finalised for withdrawal from prosecution so far, courts have granted permission for withdrawing around half-a-dozen cases.”
He said that in general cases, the permission for withdrawal from prosecution was given by the court where the charge-sheet was filed and the case was tried. However, the cases against lawmakers were tried in the special MP/MLA court and permission for their withdrawal was also given by that court only.
Before the government moves the special court, seeking its permission through the district magistrate of Prayagraj, it has to transfer cases from Muzaffarnagar and other districts to the special court.
Sources said that the withdrawal of cases against BJP leaders was getting delayed because political cases (other than the ones related to the riot) against some of them, including Sangeet Som, were registered in various districts. All of these have to be first transferred to the special court before they can be withdrawn.
Besides riot cases, Som also has cases of flouting section 144 of the CrPC, misbehaving with police and other charges registered against him. The UP government has sought a report from the Muzaffarnagar district administration in two cases lodged against him at the Civil Lines police station and the Khatauli police station. Additional district magistrate of Muzaffarnagar, Amit Singh, said that a report has been sought on 13 points, including the status of the case, witnesses’ names, etc. “ We will submit the report as per the instructions,” he said.
Joint director (prosecution), Muzaffarnagar, OP Mishra said, “All cases pertaining to lawmakers, including Sangeet Som, have been transferred from here to the special MP/MLA court in Parayagraj.”
Joint director, (prosecution), Prayagraj, Mahendra Dev Pandey said that cases registered against MLAs and MPs in different districts were being transferred to the special court here. “But we have certainly not moved any application in the special court for the permission to withdraw from prosecution in cases registered against leaders, including Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana,” he said.
However, sources said the government would move the special court, seeking its nod for dropping charges against BJP leaders after the cases against them were transferred from courts in other districts to the special court in Prayagraj.
Under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the state government is empowered to withdraw from prosecution at any stage before the judgment in ‘public interest’. But for that the government has to seek the approval of the court concerned. The court has to satisfy itself that dropping the cases against an accused would serve ‘public interest’.
Sources also said that the report the government had sought from district magistrates for withdrawing cases was a mere formality because the government had the power to overrule the DMs’ opinion in the matter. Senior lawyer Chandraveer Singh Nirwal,who was earlier coordinating the Muzaffarnagar riot cases in Muzaffarnagar, also said that the district authorities and the police did not have much say in the reports being sought.
Common charges against politicians: Som
Speaking to HT, lawmaker Sangeet Som said that most of the cases registered against him (barring riot cases) were related to violation of section 144 of CrPC, which were common charges against any political leader.
Mentioning these cases, he said that one case was registered against him while he was advancing to village Bisahda in Noida district . “Authorities asked me to take only two persons with me and I followed their instruction. Even then a case was registered against me,” he said adding, “Other cases were registered when I wanted to take out a march against ‘Hindu exodus in Kairana’ and attending a panchayat in village Mirakpur.”
He also said that cases were registered against him for acts such as sitting on a dharna against traffic police in 2009 and other demonstrations. “How can these cases be justified against a person who is in public life?” questioned the lawmaker.
A fiery, controversial leader
Sangeet Som, BJP’s firebrand and controversial leader, belongs to Faridpur village of district Meerut in UP. He retained his seat from Sardhana constituency in the 2017 UP assembly elections by defeating his nearest rival Atul Pradhan of Samajwadi Party.
Som has an image of a hardliner who shot into limelight after the Muzaffarnagar riots of September 2013, for allegedly circulating a video associated with the ‘Kawal town incident’, which is said to have been instrumental in triggering the riots.
He has also been accused of giving an inflammatory speech in the panchayat of Nagla Madaud village.
Som was booked under the National Security Act (NSA) along with a few others, including minister Suresh Rana.
First Published: Aug 14, 2019 19:27 IST