Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, deputy Manish Sisodia, 11 AAP legislators charged for assault on top bureaucrat
Delhi Police on Monday charged chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and 11 other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders for hatching a criminal conspiracy and assaulting Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash at the CM’s residence in February.
In a charge sheet filed at the Patiala House court, police charged the 13 AAP leaders under Indian Penal Code sections for criminal conspiracy, illegal confinement and causing hurt and assault and 10 other offences. Causing hurt to deter a public servant (Section 332), the most serious of charges levelled, carries a maximum punishment of three years in jail, or a fine, or both.
A charge sheet is a report detailing the evidence and list of witnesses, on the basis of which a court starts a trial against an accused person. The court has listed August 25 as the next date of hearing.
HT had reported on June 28 that Kejriwal and Sisodia were likely to be charged by the police.
The AAP denied the police’s charges, and a joint statement on Monday by five Delhi government ministers -- Gopal Rai, Satyendar Jain, Kailash Gahlot, Imran Hussain and Rajendra Pal Gautam – said the police action was “politically motivated”. The four said in their statement that the charge sheet would be “torn to shreds when put under legal scrutiny” and that the party would ”contest the case with all the legal strength”.
On February 20, the Delhi police had registered a first information report (FIR) against AAP MLA ‘Amanatullah Khan and Others’ on Prakash’s complaint alleging that he was called to the chief minister’s residence for a midnight meeting on the night February 19, when he was assaulted by the party legislators in front of the chief minister.
A police officer, who asked not to be named, said that one of the most important witnesses in the case was Kejriwal’s former advisor VK Jain, a retired Delhi government officer. Jain, who has recorded his statement before a magistrate, has told the police that he had seen Prakash’s spectacles falling after being assaulted by the two MLAs in front of Kejriwal, the officer added. Within a month of the incident, VK Jain had resigned as the chief minister’s advisor, citing personal reasons.
Prakash had said that Jain was the one who had called him for the meeting, which, he was told, was about releasing advertisements about the government’s work.
In his complaint, Prakash alleged that on February 19, he was called to Kejriwal’s house at midnight to discuss the issue of difficulty in releasing ads about the government’s achievements. Prakash said when he reached the CM’s residence, there were many MLAs present and he was forced to sit in between two MLAs on a three-seater sofa. The chief secretary claimed the MLAs shouted and abused him. Later Amanatullah Khan and another MLA assaulted and punched him on his head and temple without any provocation.
“Doctors have noted in the report that Prakash had swelling behind his ears, cheeks and a bruise below his lip, even more than 24 hours after the assault,” the officer quote above said, adding that a police officer posted at the spot was also a witness.
VK Jain declined to comment, while Prakash said he would only speak before the court.
The alleged attack on Prakash had caused a rift between the bureaucrats, particularly IAS officers posted in Delhi government, and the political executive. On February 28, the officers held a candlelight march to protest the alleged assault on Prakash.
Kejriwal accused the officers of not cooperating with ministers. On June 11, he and ministers Sisodia, Rai and Satyendar Jain started a sit-in protest at the Lieutenant Governor’s house and refused to leave until the officers promised to cooperate. The impasse ended on June 19, when the IAS officers’ association assured the CM that they would attend meetings provided they were assured of their safety.
The BJP demanded Kejriwal’s resignation. The party’s Delhi unit president Manoj Tiwari said, “The CM should own moral responsibility and hand over charge to a party colleague till the court decides the matter.”?
Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken said the attack on the CS was “unprecedented”, and tweeted that if elected representatives are honest, they always get support from the bureaucracy.
Retired IAS officer Rakesh Mehta, who was Delhi chief secretary between 2007 and 2011, said, “This will definitely have an impact in the already-strained ties between the bureaucracy and the political executive of Delhi. We hope the Kejriwal government helps instil a sense of safety among officers.”
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- A PCR call was received at around 1 am at Tughlaq Road police station reporting that some people were shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans near Khan Market metro station