A day before the Uttar Pradesh Criminal Law (Composition of Offences and Abatement of Trials) (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was tabled in the state assembly on December 21 — the Bill proposing abatement of certain proceedings pending before magistrates until December 31, 2015 was passed the next day — the Yogi Adityanath government ordered withdrawal of a 1995 case in which he, Shiv Pratap Shukla (now Minister of State for Finance at the Centre), Sheetal Pandey (BJP MLA from Sahajanwa) and ten others were booked for violating prohibitory orders.
The case, lodged at Pipiganj police station in Gorakhpur district, was pending in a local court which had earlier directed that non-bailable warrants (NBWs) be issued against the accused for non-appearance before it. Prosecution Officer, Gorakhpur, B D Mishra, said: “The court had ordered NBWs against all named but the warrants were not issued then.”
On December 20, the state government sent a letter to the District Magistrate, Gorakhpur, directing that an application be filed to withdraw the case before the court. The government order stated that based on a letter received from the District Magistrate on October 27 and after scrutinising facts of the case, it had been decided to withdraw the case. The letter mentioned the names of Yogi Adityanath, Shiv Pratap Shukla, Sheetal Pandey and ten others.
Gorakhpur Additional District Magistrate, City, Rajneesh Chandra confirmed that the order for filing an application to withdraw the case had been received. “The Prosecution Officer has been asked to file the withdrawal application in the appropriate court. Apart from the CM, the letter also has names of Union Minister Shiv Pratap Shukla and MLA Sheetal Pandey,” Chandra said.
According to records of the Pipiganj police station, the case under IPC section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) was filed against Yogi Adityanath and 14 others on May 27, 1995 for holding a meeting in Pipiganj town despite imposition of prohibitory orders by the district administration.
Prosecution Officer Mishra said: “After the FIR was lodged, the district administration submitted documents related to the charges and the case in the local court. The court issued summons to all accused and when they did not respond, the court ordered NBWs against them around two years ago.”
“I have received the state government letter directing that a withdrawal application be filed in the court. The application sent by the state government has 13 names including Yogi Adityanath. We will move the withdrawal application in the court after the winter vacation,” Mishra said.
When his comments were sought, Minister of State Shiv Pratap Shukla said, “I do not recall the meeting. The matter is 22 years old. I am not aware about any case or NBW against me.”
MLA Sheetal Pandey’s son Digambar said his father was named in the case lodged at the Pipiganj police station in 1995.
On December 21, before the Uttar Pradesh Criminal Law (Composition of Offences and Abatement of Trials) (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was tabled, Yogi Adityanath told the Assembly that there were about 20,000 ‘politically-motivated’ cases that had been registered in the state for mere “dharna pradarshan” (demonstrations), and for which warrants were issued, sometimes years later. He said the amendment to the law would end all such cases.