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SP, BSP likely to challenge govt move to withdraw 2013 Muzaffarnagar riot cases

Law minister Brijesh Pathak said on Thursday the government plans to withdraw all such cases that were filed due to political reasons.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2018 23:37 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times,
Muzaffarnagar riot cases,SP,BSP
The 2013 riots in Muzaffarnagar claimed more than 60 lives, displaced nearly 50,000 people and shattered the Jat-Muslim unity, altering the political dynamics of western Uttar Pradesh.(Raj K Raj/HT File Photo)

The Yogi Adityanath government’s move to withdraw cases registered against Hindus during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots is likely to hit a judicial hurdle as the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have decided to challenge the move in court.

Law minister Brijesh Pathak said on Thursday the government plans to withdraw all such cases that were filed due to political reasons. Pathak denied that his government had initiated the exercise with a view to help the Muzaffarnagar riots accused. “Whether riot cases or not we will seek withdrawal of all such cases that are politically motivated,” Pathak said. He added that leaders of all parties have approached the government to demand withdrawal of ‘politically motivated’ cases against them.

“I have the entire list (of leaders) with me,” Pathak said. “More than 62 lakh cases are pending in various courts. It’s a serious issue. We will definitely withdraw cases that certainly were filed on extraneous considerations,” he said. The state government has already issued an order for withdrawal of about 20,000 ‘political’ cases registered against political leaders, legislators and ministers in the state under the Uttar Pradesh Criminal Law (Composition of Offences and Abatement of Trials) (Amendment) Bill, 2017 passed by the legislative assembly.

Talking to HT, principal secretary, law, Umesh Kumar said there is procedure under section 321 of the code of criminal procedure under which cases are withdrawn by the state government. The application for withdrawal of cases has been forwarded to the district magistrate of the respective district. The report of the district magistrate will be put before a two-member committee, consisting of the principal secretary, home and principal secretary, law. The committee will in turn forward its recommendation to the law minister.

Once the state government gives its approval for withdrawal, the public prosecutor will move a petition in the district court for the same. The court will take up the petition for hearing only after the investigation officer in the case files a charge sheet against the accused in court. It’s the court that will determine whether cases could be withdrawn or not, he said. Senior lawyer in Allahabad high court IB Singh said the public prosecutor has to convince the court that the withdrawal of the cases is in public interest.

Meanwhile, leader of SP legislature party Ram Govind Chaudhary and BSP state unit president Ramachal Rajbhar said the decision of the BJP government to withdraw cases against the riot accused charged with murder, loot and arson was politically motivated. “The local leaders have been directed to challenge the petition of the state government for withdrawal of cases in the district court”, Rajbhar said.

Former union minister Sanjeev Balyan had met the CM in February seeking withdrawal of 402 cases registered largely against Hindus during the riots. The move comes weeks after UP government sought information on the possibility of withdrawing nine criminal cases against BJP leaders in these riots in which Balyan, too, is an accused. He was accompanied by members of the Muzaffarnagar and Shamli khaps during the meeting with Adityanath, who is said to have assured the delegation that he will look into their demands.

Along with 402 cases of arson, Balyan briefed the CM about nine other cases registered after riots largely against the community women who were charged with preventing the police from carrying out arrests of the men. The 2013 riots claimed over 60 lives, displaced nearly 50,000 people and shattered Jat-Muslim unity, altering the political dynamics of western UP. Asked if he thought the government could withdraw cases that are now in court, Balyan said, “If withdrawal isn’t possible, we will seek re-inquiry as we are convinced that these cases were politically motivated.”

First Published: Mar 22, 2018 23:37 IST