Why can’t Yogi Adityanath be prosecuted for hate speech, Supreme Court asks UP govt

Updated on Aug 20, 2018 11:16 PM IST

Adityanath was an MP from Gorakhpur when he allegedly gave an inflammatory speech outside the town’s railway station.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addresses a press conference in Lucknow on August 7, 2018.(PTI)
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addresses a press conference in Lucknow on August 7, 2018.(PTI)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to explain why chief minister Yogi Adityanath should not be prosecuted in a case involving an alleged hate speech he had delivered before the 2007 Gorakhpur riots.

A bench of chief justice of India Dipak Misra, and justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud sent notices to the state government, its home department, and the district magistrate and superintendent of police of Gorakhpur on a petition challenging the Allahabad high court’s February 2018 decision to accept the state’s refusal to sanction the prosecution of Adityanath.

The petition was filed by Parwej Parvaz, on whose plea a magistrate’s court in Gorakhpur had in 2008 ordered the initiation of a criminal case against Adityanath and four others.

Senior advocate Aman Lekhi, on behalf of the UP government, accepted the notice to which a response will be filed within four weeks. The court will hear the matter in six weeks.

Adityanath, who was the BJP’s Gorakhpur MP in 2007, was accused of delivering provocative speeches in the city during the Muharram procession, which allegedly led to communal clashes in which one person was killed and several injured. Adityanath was arrested after the incident, but was released two days later.

In his petition filed against the February 23 high court verdict, Parvaz asked for an impartial investigation into the case.

Refusing to grant a sanction to prosecute the chief minister, the state’s principal home secretary had on May 3, 2017 said that the draft probe report filed by the police’s CB-CID showed there was insufficient evidence to initiate a trial against Adityanath. The government had also noted that the video evidence submitted by the complainant against Adityanath and four others -- sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in October 2014 -- had been “tampered” with.

Finding no discrepancy in the investigation into the 2007 Gorakhpur riots “hate speech” case, the Allahabad high court had dismissed Parvaz’s petition. A plea to hand over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation was also denied.

Parvaz’s petition to the apex court said that the state’s home department was under Adityanath, who could not be a “judge in his own cause.” Parvaz also submitted to the court that he had given a written application to the police procure details of a television show in which the chief minister had reportedly admitted to the incident.

The Uttar Pradesh government had earlier said that the video recording of the alleged hate speech made by Adityanath was tampered with.

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