A Delhi court Wednesday expressed unhappiness over the state government’s pending decision on whether or not to accord prosecution sanction of former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and others in a 2016 sedition case. Earlier too, the court had granted Delhi Police time to procure the sanction.
According to official records, police had applied to the Delhi government for prosecution sanction just two hours before filing the chargesheet in the case on January 14 last year. In the absence of a sanction, the court has been deferring taking cognizance of the chargesheet.
Taking note of the delay, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Purshottam Pathak sought to know from the investigating officer (IO) if they have sent a reminder notice to the state government. The court has directed the Delhi government’s counsel and IO to file a status report by April 3.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, when asked about the prosecution sanction later, said: “I can’t influence the decision of the department concerned (Home) and I do not have a say in the department, but I will ask them to make a decision quickly.”
The police had claimed in the chargesheet that Kumar was leading a procession and supported seditious slogans raised on the campus during an event on February 9, 2016. Besides Kumar, then JNU students Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and others were chargesheeted for allegedly shouting “anti-India slogans” during the event held to mark the hanging of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
On Wednesday, the direction was issued after the IO appraised the court that the permission to prosecute the accused had not been granted so far, and the file pertaining to their request was pending before the Delhi government’s home department.
Observing that “judicial time was wasted” on the issue, the court had on September 19 last year said it expected the Delhi government to take a decision within one month.
The Indian Express had in September reported that the state government was set to turn down Delhi Police’s request to prosecute Kanhaiya and others, after the Home department reportedly took the view that the February 9, 2016 event on the JNU campus did not amount to sedition against the state.
This was based on legal opinion obtained from standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra, who had reportedly said that Delhi Police’s request be turned down.
The accused persons in the case have been charged with offences under IPC sections 124A (sedition), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 465 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 143 (being a member of an unlawful assembly), 149 (being a member of an unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
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