Allahabad HC rejects BJP MLA's plea to suspend conviction in case related to 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots

NewsDrum Desk
23 Nov 2022

Prayagraj (UP), Nov 23 (PTI) Allahabad High Court on Wednesday rejected an application by disqualified BJP MLA Vikram Saini seeking suspension of his conviction in a case related to 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.

On October 10, a special MP/MLA court in Muzaffarnagar had sentenced Saini and 10 others to two years' imprisonment in the case. The conviction resulted in Saini being disqualified from the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly.

On Tuesday, the single-judge bench of Justice Samit Gopal reserved its order on his appeal challenging the conviction after hearing arguments of the state's and Saini's counsels. On November 18, the court had suspended the sentence awarded to Saini and also granted him bail.

Rejecting his application on Wednesday, Justice Gopal said, "The criminal activities resulting in disqualification are related to various spheres pertaining to the interest of the nation, common citizen, communal harmony, and prevalence of goods governance. Merely by pleading that appellant by the conviction will stand disqualified as per the Representation of Peoples' Act, 1951 is no ground to suspend the conviction." The court further observed, "The law as is continuously being held, reiterated and referred to is that powers of suspension of conviction should be exercised in rare cases only." "The conviction of the appellant/applicant for rioting, rioting armed with deadly weapon, endangering life or personal safety of others, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging his duty, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace and criminal intimidation, which had caused a law and order problem and had thrown the peace of the citizens out of gear," the court said.

"Section 8 of the Representation of Peoples' Act, 1951 stipulates the disqualification on conviction for certain offences. The offences under the Indian Penal Code covered by the act have the potentiality to destroy the core values of a healthy democracy, safety of the state, economic stability, national security and prevalence and sustenance of peace and harmony amongst citizens and may others," the court observed.

During Tuesday's proceedings, Saini's counsel IK Chaturvedi argued that his client was implicated in the case due to political vendetta as a government headed by a rival party was in power when the riots happened.

Besides, it is a case of no injury and no public witness is available, he argued.

It was also contended on behalf of the appellant (Saini) that as a consequence of the conviction, Saini had been disqualified as MLA and his Assembly seat -- Khatauli -- fell vacant.

Also, per section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, he cannot contest an election for a subsequent period of six years as he has been convicted by a court. Hence, in view of these contentions, his conviction may be stayed in the interest of justice, Saini's counsel pleaded.

The state government counsel opposed the prayer, saying Saini was an accused and had been chargesheeted. During the investigation, the police found him involved in offences alleged, the counsel argued.

Rejecting the pleas of Saini's counsel, the court said in its order, "The grounds as taken do not in any manner appeal to the court. There is full-fledged trial conducted after which the appellant has been convicted. The trial court has found the evidence to be trustworthy and reliable." The bypoll for the Khatauli Assembly constituency is scheduled to be held on December 5. PTI COR RAJ CDN SZM

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