Panchkula arson: Court drops sedition, attempt to murder charges against 53 dera followers

The court then dropped sedition charges on the grounds that there was no prosecution sanction obtained either from the state or central government in slapping these charges, which is mandatory in nature.

india Updated: Feb 19, 2018 21:50 IST
Vivek Gupta
Vivek Gupta
Hindustan Times, Panchkula
Dera Sacha Sauda,Panchkula arson,Panchkula
The move comes as a setback for Panchkula police who had prepared a strong case against them by slapping sedition charges under Section 121 (Waging war against the state) and 121A (Conspiracy to commit offences under Section 121) along with other charges including Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at the time of moving the challan last month. (HT File )

The court of additional sessions judge, Rajan Walia, has dropped the sedition and attempt to murder charges against 53 followers and executive officials of the Dera Sacha Sauda who were arrested from the dividing road of Panchkula’s Sector 2 and 4 on August 25 after clashes broke out following the conviction of the dera chief in a rape case.

Among the main accused were Surender Dhiman and Chamkaur Singh, close aides of convicted dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who have been booked in multiple cases relating to Panchkula arson. The next hearing is scheduled for February 22.

The move comes as a setback for Panchkula police who had prepared a strong case against them by slapping sedition charges under Section 121 (Waging war against the state) and 121A (Conspiracy to commit offences under Section 121) along with other charges including Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at the time of moving the challan last month.

The court said merely pelting pebbles from some distance cannot be considered an attempt to murder. There was no injury to any police personnel which could be considered dangerous to life.

Representing the police, public prosecutor Romil Lamba argued that the assembly of these accused at the spot had become uncontrollable which also led to stone pelting on the police personnel, which is why they were charged under Sections 307, 121 and 121-A.

However, the defence counsel argued that the offences under these sections were unnecessary as there was no life threatening injury to any police personnel and none of the accused had any kind of dangerous weapons.

Counsel SS Rohilla further argued that offences under sections 121 and 121-A IPC can’t be made out as there was no intention to wage war against the state.

Giving justification on removing Section 307, the court stated that merely pelting pebbles from some distance cannot be considered an attempt to murder. There was no injury to any police personnel which could be considered dangerous to life.

The court then dropped sedition charges on the grounds that there was no prosecution sanction obtained either from the state or central government in slapping these charges, which is mandatory in nature.

Secondly, overt acts such a collection of men, arms and ammunition itself do not mean that they are waging war as there is distinction between riot and waging of war as the purpose and intention is different.

Meanwhile after removing these sections, these accused are largely left with mild sections of rioting (Section 148 and 149), deterring public servant from duty (Section 283) and causing hurt to deter public servant (Section 332).

Reacting on the development, Panchkula police commissioner AS Chawla said that they are legally examining the matter.

First Published: Feb 19, 2018 09:31 IST