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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Rajasthan SOG drops sedition charge, transfers cases to ACB

The development comes days after Gehlot appeared to make a conciliatory move, saying that he will welcome back the rebel Congress MLAs if the party leadership “forgives them”.

Written by Hamza Khan | Jaipur | Updated: August 5, 2020 8:33:18 am
Rajasthan SOG drops sedition charge, transfers cases to ACB Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot. (File)

The Special Operations Group (SOG) of Rajasthan Police has withdrawn the sedition charge from the three FIRs lodged in connection with the alleged attempt to topple the Ashok Gehlot government. The cases have now been transferred to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

The development comes days after Gehlot appeared to make a conciliatory move, saying that he will welcome back the rebel Congress MLAs if the party leadership “forgives them”. A key grouse of former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot that triggered the rebellion within Rajasthan Congress was the FIRs being filed by SOG under the sedition charge. While it did not name Pilot, it was seen as targeting him.

Sources also pointed out that the SOG’s move to drop the sedition charge was aimed at preventing NIA from taking over the cases.

The Rajasthan High Court was hearing a petition by rebel Congress MLA from Sardarshahar, Bhanwar Lal Sharma, who sought quashing of the FIR against him or its transfer to the NIA. On Tuesday, SOG told the bench of Justice Satish Kumar Sharma that it is dropping sedition charges and transferring Bhanwar Lal’s case to the ACB.

In a lower court, at the hearing on the bail plea of Sanjay Jain, one of the accused named in the FIR along with Sharma, the SOG Tuesday said that “based on the investigation conducted so far, no offence under IPC 124A has been found” and investigation under The Prevention of Corruption Act is active. Hence, the files and the case are being transferred to the ACB, SOG told the court.

On July 17, SOG lodged two FIRs based on complaints by Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi. Both were lodged under IPC sections 124A (sedition) and 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy). While one didn’t mention any names, the other mentioned Sharma, Jain, and one Gajendra Singh — Congress claimed it is Jodhpur MP and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

“We said that IPC 124A is not at all made out in the FIR and the investigating agency admitted it in court today and that they are cancelling it,” said Sharma’s counsel Swadeep Singh Hora, who represented him in the high court. “So now the question arises, so many teams were sent (by SOG to NCR) and such a big drama was being done when they knew from day one that offence is not made out. So how mala fide it is.”

Another case, lodged on July 10 under the same IPC sections, was also being investigated by SOG. It was in connection with this FIR that SOG sought time from Pilot for a statement.

In a statement, SOG said sedition charges are being dropped from all three FIRs and they are being transferred to ACB.

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