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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Delhi Chief Secretary assault case: Court discharges Kejriwal, Sisodia, 9 others

The court framed charges against AAP MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal despite contradictions pointed out by the defence counsel in the statement of star prosecution witness V K Jain, former advisor to the CM.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi |
Updated: August 12, 2021 9:55:32 am
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (right) with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal, File)

Observing that “conspirators would prefer to execute their unlawful design in secrecy” and not create witnesses against themselves, a Delhi court Wednesday discharged Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and nine others in a case of alleged assault on former Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash.

A Special MP/MLA court, presided over by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sachin Gupta at Rouse Avenue, however, framed charges against AAP MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal despite contradictions pointed out by the defence counsel in the statement of star prosecution witness V K Jain. Jain was the former advisor to the CM.

A case was registered on Prakash’s complaint, in which he alleged he was called for a meeting at Kejriwal’s residence on the intervening night of February 19 and 20, 2018, and was allegedly assaulted by AAP MLAs when they questioned him over delay in publishing TV advertisements.

Police had booked Kejriwal and 12 others in the case under IPC sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 323 (causing hurt), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 120-B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence commit­ted in prosecution of common object), among others.

Apart from Kejriwal and Sisodia, MLAs Amanatullah Khan, Prakash Jarwal, Nitin Tyagi, Rituraj Govind, Sanjeev Jha, Ajay Dutt, Rajesh Rishi, Rajesh Gupta, Madan Lal, Parveen Kumar and Dinesh Mohaniya have been named as accused in the case.

Khan and Jarwal have also been charged under IPC sections 186, 33, 353, 323 and 34.

The court, in its order, said all MLAs gathered there were informed of the meeting beforehand. “Conspirators or persons with criminal bent of mind would prefer to execute their unlawful design in secrecy, without its knowledge being shared to third persons. They would not create witnesses against themselves. Hence, the aforesaid circumstances do not subscribe to the theory of common unlawful object, criminal conspiracy, abetment or common intention, as alleged by the prosecution,” it said.

On allegations that the CM’s residence was chosen as there were no CCTV cameras, the court said, “It cannot be inferred that meeting at that place was deliberately held in conspiracy by accused persons to assault and intimidate the complainant.”

The court made this observation after going through the complainant’s supplementary statement and said he had attended a meeting in the same room a week before the incident and that it was not uncommon to hold meetings at the CM’s residence.

Meanwhile, perusing Jain’s statement to the Magistrate, the court said it “can fairly be inferred that complainant sat on the sofa between accused Khan and Jarwal, without being insisted or forced by anyone. Thus, the very allegation that complainant, under a pre-planned conspiracy, was made to sit on the sofa between accused Khan and Jarwal, in order to assault and intimidate him, does not survive.”

Jain in his statement alleged that when he came back from the washroom, he saw Khan and Jarwal, “touching, pushing and putting hands on the chin of the Chief Secretary, asking him as to why he was not performing his duties”.

He stated that during that incident, “his (Chief Secretary) spectacle fell down on the ground. Chief Minister asked both the MLAs to refrain from doing so and permitted him to leave from there”.

The court, however, said “If the CM would have been part of any conspiracy, then how come he objected to the aforesaid conduct of two MLAs, asked them to refrain from doing so, and even permitted the complainant to leave when permission was so sought by the complainant.”

It further said the allegation that the CM called the meeting at midnight cannot be considered a part of criminal conspiracy. “Labelling such a meeting, even called in late hours at the residence of the CM, attended by CM, Dy. CM and 11 other MLAs, as unlawful assembly or part of any criminal conspiracy, can seriously hamper the smooth functioning of the government and public interest would suffer ultimately,” the court said.

It said the plea of complainant that specific MLAs were chosen by the CM and Deputy CM for the purpose of the meeting at midnight, who had no official role to play in the meeting, is “again without any merit”. “All the persons present there in the meeting were MLAs, who were elected representatives of people and not criminals,” the court said.

It also said the allegation that the CM was entirely dependent upon the complainant regarding issuance of such advertisements and a meeting was called to release TV advertisements as part of criminal conspiracy, would be to “misconstrue and misconceive the entire set of things and the same appears to be completely groundless”.

The court said that contention raised by the complainant that while Deputy CM made two calls to him, he was at CM residence and the same was also part of conspiracy, is “absolutely fallacious and groundless”. “There is nothing unusual and uncommon for the deputy CM to be present at CM residence,” the order read.

The court held that in sharp contrast to the complainant’s version that he was only asked about the advertisement in the meeting, Jain’s statement said there were many issues, apart from the issue of advertisements, raised by the MLAs present there. “This itself hits against the very genesis and foundation of alleged unlawful assembly, criminal conspiracy or sharing of common intention by all present there. It also prima facie negates the plea of complainant that meeting was called to discuss the issue relating to the advertisements only,” the court said.

The court held that from the conduct of the CM and surrounding circumstances, it “cannot be inferred even remotely that he was part of any such conspiracy”.

As the court order was announced, Kejriwal tweeted, “Satyamev Jayate”.

Sisodia welcomed the court order and said, “This decision of the court has also increased the confidence of the people in the judiciary. The conspiracy hatched by the Centre and the Prime Minister against Arvind Kejriwal and the government elected by the people of Delhi has been exposed. The Central government and the Prime Minister should come in front of the people of Delhi and apologise.”

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