A Delhi court Friday charged Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia, former law minister Somnath Bharti and AAP leader Rakhi Birla for alleged unlawful assembly, assault and obstructing public servants on duty during a dharna outside Rail Bhavan in 2014.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal said the accused may not have personally committed the offences pertaining to assaulting a public servant, but “if an offence is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in prosecution of the common object of that assembly… every person who, at the time of committing that offence, is a member of the same assembly, is guilty of that offence”.
The court discharged AAP leaders Ashutosh and Sanjay Singh, as there was no evidence on their participation, and because the prosecution witnesses hadn’t mentioned their names. The court set four dates in July for examination of witnesses.
As per the interim order, the case pertains to a dharna by the CM along with his supporters at Rail Bhavan on January 20, 2014 — in violation of prohibitory orders under CrPC section 144 .
The FIR was registered on a complaint by sub-inspector Ghanshyam. As per his complaint, Kejriwal and Sisodia arrived at Rail Bhavan Chowk in a Wagon-R, followed by four-five other cars. Police informed them that prohibitory orders were in force and offered to take the CM to North Block, the complaint states. Soon, 250-300 supporters arrived and jostled with police.
According to the complaint, Kejriwal sat on a dharna near Rail Bhavan and allegedly gave provocative speeches, and some policemen received injuries trying to stop the crowd.
Assistant Public Prosecutor for the State, Lalit Pingolia, submitted that “there is sufficient evidence which shows a grave suspicion that the accused persons were aware of the order under section 144 CrPC and they knowingly flouted that order”.
Defence counsel B S Joon said, “The delay in registration of FIR; order under section 144 CrPC being bad in law; non-communication of that order; defect in cognizance are valid reasons to discharge the accused persons”.
However, the court agreed with the prosecution and noted that police had registered the case within a reasonable time. The court also said claims of non-communication of prohibitory orders was “not a tenable argument as the copy of the order was sent to the Chief Secretary”.
Charges were framed under various IPC sections, including 143, 145, 149 (related to unlawful assembly), 147 (punishment for rioting), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty).