JNU 'Sedition': Nod to Prosecute Kanhaiya Against Counsel’s Advice
In July last year, Rahul Mehra had said that activities of the accused “do not amount to sedition against the State”
The Delhi government on Friday, 28 February, gave the Delhi Police the go-ahead to prosecute former JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar and nine others in connection with a 2016 sedition case, despite its standing counsel's advise against prosecution sanction, The Indian Express reported.
In July last year, the Delhi government’s standing counsel Rahul Mehra, when asked for an opinion, had reportedly said that activities of the accused “do not amount to sedition against the State” and that the evidence on record was “flimsy” and riddled with “gaps”.
Mehra, after examining the original complaint, the findings of JNU’s High-Level Committee, and the transcript of the entire incident, had come to the conclusion that there was material error on the part of police in filing the charge sheet, according to The Indian Express.
Mehra had also informed the Home Department that being critical of the government and its policies does not amount to sedition, adding that suppressing unpopular opinion will throttle democracy in the long run.
Additionally, several reports suggested that senior AAP leaders, including Home Minister Satyendar Jain, had been against granting sanction to prosecute.
For example, as recently as September 2019, a Times of India report said that according to sources, Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain had given his opinion that no case of sedition is made out against Kanhaiya and others on the evidence placed on record by the police.
‘Delhi Govt Has Not Intervened in Any of Such Cases’
Meanwhile, AAP MLA and spokesperson Raghav Chadha on Friday said the Law Department of the Delhi government has given its opinion on this matter to the Home Department after due diligence, according to PTI.
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 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,” Chadha added.
"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, according to PTI.
On 14 January, the police had filed a change sheet against Kanhaiya and others, including former JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya.
The police had said the accused led a procession and had supported the seditious slogans allegedly raised on the JNU campus during an event on Parliament-attack accused Afzal Guru on 9 February 2016.
(With inputs from The Indian Express.)
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