FINDING NO discrepancy in the investigation into the 2007 Gorakhpur riots hate speech case, the Allahabad High Court on Thursday dismissed a writ petition challenging the Uttar Pradesh government’s refusal to grant sanction to prosecute Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. It also dismissed the demand for a CBI probe into the case.
A division bench comprising Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Akhilesh Chandra Sharma heard the writ petition filed by Parwez Parvaz and Asad Hayat, seeking that the probe be handed over to an independent agency like the CBI, as the state police’s CB-CID was “deliberately delaying and impeding investigation”.
The bench, however, said, “We do not find any procedural error either in the conduct of the investigation or in the decision making process of refusal to grant sanction or any other illegality in the order, which may require any interference by this court. Writ petition must fail and accordingly stands dismissed. However, in the facts and circumstances, we do not make any order as to costs.”
UP additional government advocate A K Sand said, “We presented our case and the fact that the evidence was tampered with … so, we have no grounds to grant sanction to prosecute.”
Last year, the state government had refused sanction to prosecute Adityanath and four other BJP leaders in the case because the video evidence (CD) sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in October 2014 was “tampered” with. Charged under IPC section 153A (inciting communal riots), the investigating agencies needed government sanction to prosecute Adityanath and other accused.
S Farman Naqvi, counsel for the petitioners, alleged that the CD that he had sent to the Gorakhpur court in 2008 was never sent for forensic examination as per court records and thus, the government’s argument that the evidence was tampered was based on a “fake” CD.
“The CD we had submitted to the Gorakhpur court in 2008 was received in November 2017 by the HC along with the records of the Gorakhpur CJM court… it was opened in the presence of both judges… and found in a sealed cover. When a CD is found intact by the HC, then it should have asked which CD was examined by the forensic lab in 2014 … This is a hopelessly disappointing judgment and the findings are illegal and contrary to facts. We will appeal in the Supreme Court…,” he added.
However, the bench said that the CD submitted by the petitioner on May 5, 2008 was found to be “broken” in the record of the chief judicial magistrate court. “The CD filed by the petitioner in the CJM court was in a broken state, which could not have been subjected to forensic analysis, and was never sent for the forensic examination,” it added.
The incident dates back to January 2007 when clashes had broken out between two groups during a Muharram procession in Gorakhpur. It is alleged that after a Hindu youth, who was injured in the clashes, succumbed, then Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath had delivered speeches seeking revenge.
Naqvi argued that the CM, who is head of the state, had the power to grant or refuse sanction to prosecute himself, highlighting “the imminent bias arising in the legal process”. The HC, however, ruled out the argument, saying that it was not the CM but the state’s home department that was required to deal with “matters relating to law and order and investigation by CB-CID and sanction for prosecution”. It added that “at no point of time after completion of the investigation, the record was ever sent to the office of the CM… and the matter remained with the home department…”