Varun's NSA reprieve due to flawed investigation: judicial panel
The Uttar Pradesh government had no "sufficient cause" to detain BJP's Varun Gandhi under the National Security Act (NSA), a high court panel has stated, citing a flawed detention order and "breach of rules of natural justice".india Updated: May 12, 2009 15:45 IST
The Uttar Pradesh government had no "sufficient cause" to detain BJP's Varun Gandhi under the National Security Act (NSA), a high court panel has stated, citing a flawed detention order and "breach of rules of natural justice".
The High Court Advisory Board that has to approve every detention under NSA has given a stinging rebuttal of the poor investigation and shabbily prepared chargesheet against Varun Gandhi, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate in Pilibhit and was slapped with NSA for his allegedly incendiary campaign speeches.
The NSA was revoked on May 8 following the recommendation of the judicial panel, which gave a 13-page confidential report signed by its three members - it is headed by Justice Pradeep Kant and comprises two retired high court judges S.N. Sahai and P.K. Sareen.
Stating that there was "no sufficient cause" for detention of Varun Gandhi under NSA, the report stated: "The detention order stands vitiated due to non-application of mind and breach of rules of natural justice and acting fairly on the part of the detaining authority..."
The panel, the ultimate statutory authority on the NSA, expressed surprise that the concerned authorities had overlooked and ignored fundamental principles of natural justice while dealing with the case and wondered how the FIR (first information report) could have been lodged at the behest of the district magistrate who had also issued the formal NSA order.
"The district magistrate has used his own FIRs and allegations made therein for the purpose of arriving at his subjective satisfaction in this case. This raises a question of bias and legal malafides. It is a settled rule of natural justice that no person can be judge in his own cause."
Pointing to another flaw, it said: "The detaining authority has also overlooked the fact that the detenu had already been admitted to jail at 2.30 p.m. on March 28,2009, while the alleged incident of violence took place at the jail gates at 2.45 p.m., which was evident from the contents of the FIR itself. There was also no allegation of any role of the detenu in the said incident."
Varun Gandhi was arrested March 28, but charged with provisions under the stringent NSA the next day as his arrest came amid violence by his supporters who clashed with police. He was initially lodged in Pilibhit jail but moved to Etah jail for security reasons.
The report also questions the role of the district magistrate with respect to the hate speech delivered by Varun Gandhi in Pilibhit's Barkhera constituency on March 7.
Referring to a CD showing Varun Gandhi making the inflammatory speeches, the report said it was not produced before the "detention authority, nor has the same been furnished to the detenu".
"The detention order thus stands vitiated on account of the failure to place the CD for consideration..."
According to legal experts, Varun Gandhi would not have been let off had the state police carried out its task properly.
"The top bosses of the police and home department were solely responsible for letting Varun go scot free. After all, the whole case was being monitored by people at the highest level where they needed to have done a foolproof job," former state advocate general Virendra Bhatia told IANS.
Suspecting a political conspiracy, Varun Gandhi's key opponent and Pilibhit's Congress nominee V.M. Singh added: "The poorly drafted NSA case against Varun Gandhi was more than proof to establish an underhand deal between the BJP and the BSP..."
"The Mayawati administration's idea must have been to first make Varun a Hindutva hero and then try to woo Muslims for the BSP by claiming how firm her administration had been in dealing with an anti-Muslim insolent brat and at the same time preparing a weak case so as to get him easy reprieve," he added.