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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Arvind Kejriwal, deputy Manish Sisodia to be ‘charged with conspiracy’ in Delhi chief secretary assault case

A charge sheet against Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal will be filed at Tis Hazari court either on Saturday or early next week.

delhi Updated: Jun 28, 2018 22:40 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A file photo of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
A file photo of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. (Sanchit Khanna/HT )

The Delhi police is likely to charge chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia with criminal conspiracy in an alleged assault on the state’s chief secretary Anshu Prakash by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators in the presence of the two.

A senior police officer confirmed on condition of anonymity that the chargesheet naming the two would be filed at the Tis Hazari Courts next week. The two will be charged with planning the conspiracy to assault the top bureaucrat by calling him to the CM’s residence for a late night meeting, this person added.

Kejriwal and his party colleagues said that case is “politically motivated”. An AAP spokesperson said the party will contest the “bogus” charges in court.

Although Kejriwal and Sisodia were not named in the first information report (FIR) or arrested, the police have questioned them once. The two will be chargesheeted under section 120B of the Indian Penal Code that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Prakash, who had gone to attend a meeting called at midnight at Kejriwal’s official bungalow at Flagstaff Road on February 19, alleged that he was locked in one of the rooms and assaulted by MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal. The two MLAs were arrested and later released on bail.

Last month, when a police team questioned Kejriwal, the investigators asked him if the assault on Prakash was pre-planned. Police said the statement of the chief minister’s former advisor VK Jain is a key piece of evidence against senior leaders of AAP, including Kejriwal. Jain, who quit as advisor within three weeks of the incident, has reportedly confirmed that he had called Prakash to the chief minister’s residence that night on the CM’s instruction.

A person aware of the contents of Jain’s statement briefed Hindustan Times on its contents on condition of anonymity. Jain, according to the statement, confirmed he was witness to the assault and saw the top bureaucrat’s spectacles fall to the ground during it. Jain’s statement, recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure before a magistrate, is admissible in court. The police say that Jain has also told them that hours before the incident, deputy CM Sisodia had called him twice and said the late night meeting was important because it was related to the release of some government advertisements on television.

Another senior police officer, who asked not to be identified said that the medical report on Prakash’s injuries, which shows swelling behind his ears, cheeks and a bruise below his lip, even more than 24 hours after the assault, confirmed his allegations.

A third police officer said on condition of anonymity that the police would attach the forensic lab report of the CCTV cameras at the alleged crime spot, which was set 40- minutes and 42 seconds behind real time. The officer did not confirm if this was done intentionally or was a technical flaw.

AAP has denied the chief secretary’s allegations and called the case politically motivated. The party’s chief spokesperson, Saurabh Bharadwaj said AAP would ‘strongly contest the “bogus” police chargesheet as and when it is filed in a court of law.

A Delhi government spokesperson said the government has no information on a chargesheet. “Let the police do their job. We do not want to interfere in their investigation,” the spokesperson said. Another government spokesperson, however, said that this is not the first time the police had charged the AAP leaders. “There have been so many cases in which AAP MLAs were falsely implicated and the police drew the ire of the court,” the second spokesperson said.

Kejriwal took to Twitter on Thursday and accused the Centre of ‘registering fake cases.’ He tweeted, “Dear PM, registering fake cases against the representatives elected by the Delhi people is an insult to them. We will continue to work for Delhi people despite number of obstacles. You do your job and we will keep doing ours.”

The incident deepened the divide between the ministers of the Delhi government and bureaucrats who had been refusing to attend meetings called by the ministers, and are demanding an assurance from the chief minister on their safety. On February 28, around 500 government officials led by Prakash held a candlelight march to protest the assault.

Earlier this month, Kejriwal along with three of ministers, held a sit-in protest at lieutenant governor Anil Baijal’s office and refused to leave the premises until Baijal intervened in the strike by bureaucrats.

Kejriwal left the L-G office on June 19, after a nine-day sit-in only after the Indian Administrative Service Officers Association said its members would attend meetings called by ministers and appealed to the chief minister to ensure their safety. In turn, the chief minister also requested the IAS officers to call off their strike, and assured them of their safety. The IAS officers have sought a meeting with the chief minister to discuss the issue. The meeting is yet to happen because Kejriwal is in Bengaluru for treatment.

First Published: Jun 28, 2018 13:53 IST