The Delhi government has given a go-ahead to the city police to prosecute former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and nine others in connection with a four-year-old sedition case, as the ruling AAP denied the persistent BJP charge of blocking the proceedings in the matter.
AAP MLA and spokesperson Raghav Chadha said the Law Department of the Delhi government has given its opinion on this matter to the Home Department after due diligence. The sanction was granted by the Delhi government on 20 February, he said.
On 14 January, the police had filed a charge sheet against Kanhaiya and others, including former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya. The police had said they were leading a procession and had supported the seditious slogans allegedly raised on the campus during an event on 9 February, 2016.
Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari welcomed the development, but said the Kejriwal government perhaps gave the approval in view of the "current political situation". The BJP has been alleging the AAP government was stonewalling the proceedings in the case by not granting its approval to prosecute Kanhaiya and others.
However, Chadha said in a statement on Friday, "The Delhi government, as a matter of policy and as a matter of principle, does not and has not intervened in any of such cases. Our government has not stopped prosecution in any case, whatsoever, in the last five years." Calling it a "purely a procedural matter", he said the "judiciary and judiciary alone" should decide on the merits of each case.
"It is not for governments to decide on the merits of such cases," he added. He further said that the Delhi government has not stopped prosecution in any case, including those pertaining to its own MLAs and party leaders.
"Our MLAs fought these in the courts, in most cases our MLAs were declared innocent while some cases are still pending in court. Even when it came to elected representatives of the ruling party, that is the Aam Aadmi Party, the government of Delhi did not intervene in the process of law," the statement said.
"It is only fair for the permanent executive as well as political executive to not intervene in the process of law and let the Judiciary perform its independent function," it added.
Reacting to the development, Kanhaiya tweeted, "Fast-track court and quick action is required in the sedition case so that the country gets to know how the sedition law was misused in this entire case for political benefits."
"Thank you to Delhi government for giving permission for the sedition case," he wrote on the microblogging site while urging the Delhi Police and government officials to take this case seriously and ensure justice.
Umar Khalid also tweeted his and Anirban Bhattacharya's joint statement.
"The news of the Delhi government granting sanction to sedition case against us doesn't trouble us at all. We are confident of our innocence, have full faith in the judiciary and have ourselves been demanding the case against us to be tried in the courts.
"The ensuing trial will vindicate us and prove that the media trial at the behest of the ruling regime was false, malicious and politically motivated. We have lived under the shadow of these false charges for far too long. Finally, 'sab doodh ka doodh aur paani ka paani hoga' (everything will become clear) !" he said in a series of tweets.
"And as we will defend ourselves in the court, we will expose the lies of the ruling regime and its fake claims of being nationalist," the statement added.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Delhi Police wrote a letter to the Delhi home secretary requesting him to expeditiously give clearance to prosecute the former students.
In the letter, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Cell, Pramod Kushwah said, "It is requested to expedite the process to accord prosecution sanction under Section 196 CrPC as required for the offence under Chapter VI of the IPC, that is, Section 124A IPC."
In the charge sheet filed in a court in January, the Delhi Police had said that Kanhaiya, Khalid and Bhattacharya led a procession and raised anti-national slogans at an event in the university campus on 9 February, 2016.
The police said there was video footage wherein Kanhaiya is "seen" leading the students who were raising "anti-national slogans" and that he had been identified by the witnesses in the videos.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on 19 February had said he will ask the department concerned to take an "expeditious decision" on the granting sanction to prosecute Kanhaiya and others in the sedition case.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Feb 29, 2020 11:37:36 IST