New Delhi: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal today clarified that the Delhi government has not taken a decision on whether it would grant sanction or not for the prosecution of former Jawaharlal Nehru University Student’s Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and others in a 2016 sedition case.
The announcement came within hours of multiple media reports claiming that the Delhi government had decided to not grant sanction – news that led the BJP to protest outside Kejriwal’s home.
Media reported that government had taken decision
It was reported by the media that the Delhi government has stated that it would not allow the prosecution of the JNU students in connection with a protest demonstration which was held in the university campus in February 2016.
On the reasons behind the refusal for sanction, a report by the Indian Express stated, was that the home department believes that the students – Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and eight others – should not be prosecuted as their activities “do not amount to sedition against the State”.
It also noted that the department found the evidence on record to be “flimsy” and filled with “gaps”.
Legal opinion, file notings were cited by media
The report said the government had taken advice from standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra. It also reached the conclusion that prosecution may “jeopardise the life of the chargesheeted persons, who are all students”.
Quoting from a file noting, another report, in the Hindustan Times, said the Delhi government decided that: “The case does not amount to sedition against the state and an attack on the sovereignty of the nation by inciting violence and no case for prosecution under Section 124A of the IPC made against the 10 accused persons chargesheeted in the instant case.”
The newspaper quoted further file notings saying: “…the accused persons had no intention to incite violence or public disorder, the alleged slogans cannot be clearly attributed to the accused persons and the alleged slogans were divorced with an intention to attack the sovereignty of the state.”
However, they added that the may perhaps be prosecuted under other sections of the Indian Penal Code mentioned in the chargesheet.
Kejriwal said no decision taken as yet
Though the next hearing of the case is on September 18 and there was no need to issue a clarification on the subject just yet, Kejriwal chose to address the issue upfront as political pressure was mounted on him by the BJP, which even held a protest demonstration outside his residence.
Talking to reporter, he said, “There will be no political interference in the case. Whoever is the authority concerned in the home department will make a final decision on it.”
Surprisingly, while the home department report has clearly exonerated the JNU students of the charge of sedition, Kejriwal was quoted by PTI as saying that “the Delhi government’s home department will take the appropriate decision after taking all facts into consideration”.
Did BJP protest, assembly polls lead to change of heart?
The government’s discomfiture with the issue is understandable as the Delhi assembly elections and the Haryana assembly polls are inching closer.
BJP’s Delhi unit president Manoj Tiwari called a press conference and accused the Kejriwal government of believing that those who allegedly raised “anti-national slogans” were “patriotic”.
Terming the move “highly condemnable”, Tiwari said: “If an elected government supports a slogan like ‘Bharat ki barbadi tak jang rahegi jari‘ and thinks that it does not involve any punishment, then it means the government thinks it as a patriotic slogans. The BJP condemns this stand of the AAP.”
The BJP also tried to make a major show out of the issue and all its leaders who attended the conference sported black armbands as a mark of protest against the actions of the Kejriwal government. Besides Tiwari, Vijender Gupta, the leader of the BJP in the Delhi assembly, also addressed the media.
The protest near Kejriwal’s residence was led by its intellectual cell head Amit Kharkari.