February 23, 2021 3:27:35 am
Two days after Congress MLA from Junagadh, Bhikha Joshi, and his three sons were convicted in a 12-year-old case of assault and house-trespass and were sentenced to one-year imprisonment, the Congress leader on Monday said that the case against him was politically motivated.
Joshi, the second MLA to be convicted in two weeks, said he would file an appeal against the verdict of the trial court after the local body elections get over.
Former BJP MLA Kanu Kalsariay was also convicted by a court in Talaja town of Bhavnagar district on February 11 in a case of criminal trespass in the limestone mining site of UltraTech Cement Limited (UCL) in 2018.
“This case was politically motivated and now the government is out for witch hunting by appointing special public prosecutors to try cases involving Congress MLAs. I would file an appeal against the judgement after February 28 when local body elections get over,” Joshi told The Indian Express.
A trial court in Mendarda town of Junagadh district had on Saturday pronounced the 63-yaer-old MLA and his three his sons — Bharat (35), Manoj (30) and Jayanti (38) guilty — under IPC Sections 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons of means) and 323 (punishment for causing voluntarily hurt) and 114 (abettor present when offence is committed).
The court of judicial magistrate (first class), Dilipgiri Goswami sentenced the father and the sons to one year imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on each of them. If they fail to pay the fine, they will serve two more months in jail, the court ruled.
As per the prosecution’s case, Joshi and his sons were booked after they assaulted Mugar Juneja and his family members on November 4, 2008 after election to Amrapur village panchayat in Mendarda taluka of Junagadh district. According to the case, Bharat Joshi’s wife Savita had defeated Juneja’s wife Amina in the village panchayat election but Joshi and his sons barged into the Juneja home with weapons and demanded Rs15,000, saying Savita’s election had cost them that amount and that the Junejas who were rivals in the election must pay it. When the victim refused to pay, Joshi and others assaulted them.
The case was put on fast track as per instructions of the Supreme Court for speedy disposal of case involving MLAs and MPs.
Joshi’s advocate pleaded that Joshi be released on probation as the case was politically motivated and that he did not have any criminal antecedents. However, the court observed, “Accused No.1 (Joshi) is an MLA while Accused No2. (Bharat) is a government servant… When such individuals who are educated… respected in the society… commit this type of offence, it cannot be taken leniently,” the magistrate observed and rejected the defence plea for probation.
However, Joshi was not an MLA when he committed the said offence. He was elected MLA for the first time in 1995 and then in 2002. His second term as MLA ended in 2007.
Former BJP MLA Kanu Kalsa-riya, who is now with Congress, and six others were convicted by a trial court in Talaja last week for trespassing into limestone mining site of UCL and were sentenced to six months imprisonment.
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