Delhi minister Kailash Gahlot slaps notice on law secretary in JNU sedition case
Delhi law minister Kailash Gahlot has issued a show cause notice to the principal secretary (law) for clearing the sanction to prosecute former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students of sedition without his approval, and has written to the Delhi high court chief justice, apprising him of the matter.
The case relates to anti-national slogans allegedly raised in February 2016 on the JNU campus. Former JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar is among those named in the charge sheet.
Gahlot said the prosecution file would now have to be sent back to the law department for review.
The file on prosecution sanction is presently with Delhi home minister Satyendar Jain, who received it on Monday after the high court rapped Delhi Police earlier this month for filing a charge sheet without the government’s approval.
Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, in cases of sedition, the police have to obtain sanction from the state government before filing a charge sheet, without which the court cannot take cognisance of the document.
The law minister’s show-cause notice to principal secretary (law) AK Mendiratta pointed to Rule 13 of the transaction of business rules, which states no decision or views can be communicated by any principal secretary without the approval of the minister in-charge.
In his notice dated January 21, Gahlot said soon after the court rejected the charge sheet, the home department had sent the file to the law department for its opinion. “Instead of sending the file to the minister (law) for approval, the principal secretary (law) has directly sent the file to principal secretary (home) on January 18,” read the minister’s show-cause notice, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times.
“This is not only insubordination but appears to have been done intentionally so that the views of minister (law) are not recorded on the file,” read the notice, which directed Mendiratta to furnish an explanation immediately.
When contacted Mendiratta refused comment on the issue.
Government officials privy to the case said the law department, while returning the file to the home department, did not disapprove of the prosecution sanction.
The minister has written to the chief justice of the Delhi high court, informing about the alleged “insubordination”.
“This has been done because the court is yet to take cognizance of the sedition case. The court must be aware of all the nuances related to the prosecution sanction,” a government official said on condition of anonymity.
The principal secretary (law) is appointed by the Delhi high court, which reviews the performance of such officers.
An adviser to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the government was not going to hurry the sanction as the rules grant three month’s time for the directorate of prosecution to convey its final decision. However, if the government does not take a decision within the time frame, the sanction is deemed granted, he said.
The Delhi Police had filed the charge sheet in the court on January 14, saying sanction for prosecution was pending before the government.
Police also charged former JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans during the event to mark the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The event had taken place despite the university administration cancelling the permission following a complaint from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.