In the five-and-a-half months since special fast track courts were set up in Delhi to hear cases involving sitting MPs and MLAs, legislators of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party have been discharged or acquitted in 19 out of 22 cases filed by security agencies, according to court records examined by The Indian Express.
Until July 31, the records show, the party’s MLAs were convicted in two cases. In another case, they show, the CBI filed a closure report citing lack of evidence.
The courts of Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Arvind Kumar and Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Samar Vishal were set up at Patiala House Court in the first week of March, following an order by the Supreme Court in February. Cases which involve punishment for more than seven years of imprisonment are being heard by Judge Kumar.
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While ordering the transfer of cases involving sitting MPs and MLAs from all parties to fast track courts, District and Sessions Judge Poonam A Bamba of the Patiala House Court had, on February 23, stated that “transferee” courts should “endeavour to… dispose of the same within one year”.
Since then, ASJ Kumar disposed of one case registered against AAP by the CBI, which later filed a closure report. ACMM Samar Vishal disposed of 21 cases against the party’s lawmakers registered by Delhi Police under various charges — from violation of the Defacement Act and extortion to disobeying an order promulgated by a public servant.
Among the AAP leaders who got relief in the 19 cases are Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot and former minister Asim Ahmed Khan.
Two cases resulted in conviction: Bijwasan MLA Devinder Sehrawat was convicted under the Defacement Act and “admonished” by the court as punishment, while Tughlakabad MLA Sahi Ram was convicted of voluntarily causing hurt and wrongful restraint of his neighbour’s son.
According to court records, a total of 144 cases being heard in six district courts of Delhi against sitting MP and MLAs of various political parties were transferred to ACMM Vishal’s court.
The ACMM court is also hearing various other cases, including the National Herald case of Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. Among the cases being heard by the ASJ court is the one against Lalu Prasad in the alleged IRCTC scam.
“Apart from those filed by the state, there were a lot of private complaints against the MLAs,” AAP lawyer Mohammad Irshad said. Asked about the number of cases against AAP MLAs, Irshad said, “It is hard to come to a number because we get to know of the case once the court issues notice.”
The grounds for acquitting the MLAs in a majority of cases vary. In five cases, ACMM Vishal cited late filing of chargesheet without any cogent explanation by Delhi Police. Other reasons cited by the courts include lack of evidence, registration of FIR after “inordinate” delays, filing of chargesheet on the “basis of presumption”, and “groundless allegations”.