The Delhi government’s standing counsel, in response to a query by the Delhi government on whether or not to grant sanction to Delhi Police to prosecute former JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar and others in a 2016 sedition case, has given the opinion that the police request be turned down, it is learnt.
Sources in the Delhi government’s Home Department said the law officer, Rahul Mehra — after perusing the original complaint, the findings of JNU’s High-Level Committee, and the transcript of the entire incident on February 9, 2016 — came to the conclusion that there was material error on the part of police in filing the chargesheet.
The Home Department has been conveyed that being critical of the government and its policies do not amount to sedition, and a clampdown on unpopular views will throttle democracy in the long run.
Referring to the filing of a chargesheet without prior sanction, the law officer is learnt to have pointed out that police were perhaps trying to take advantage of the hype surrounding the case.
It is learnt that two hours before filing the chargesheet at Patiala House Courts on January 14 against Kumar and others, the investigation officer had filed an application for prosecution sanction with Delhi government’s Home department.
The counsel is learnt to have said that sanction wrongly being accorded would severely affect the life of the accused, who are all students.
Mehra sent his opinion to Delhi government’s Home Minister Satyendar Jain last week, after he was asked his view on whether or not speeches made by Kumar and nine others were seditious in nature.
The law officer is learnt to have said that the incident occurred on the spur of the moment and not in furtherance of common intention to incite violence and public disorder.
A Delhi court had on April 8 granted the Delhi government time till July 23 to decide on the issue of granting sanction to prosecute the accused.
Till date, the trial court has not taken cognizance of the chargesheet in the absence of prosecution sanction.
The accused have been charged with offences under IPC sections 124A (sedition), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 465 (punishment for forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 143 (punishment for being a member of an unlawful assembly), 149 (being a member of an unlawful assembly), 147 (punishment for rioting) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
IPC Section 124-A (sedition) requires prior sanction from a competent authority and in case sanction is not given, the court can raise objections after looking at the contents of the chargesheet.
Police has claimed in its chargesheet that Kumar was leading a procession and supported seditious slogans raised on campus during an event on February 9, 2016, held to mark the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Police also charged JNU students Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, and others.
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