The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its decision on a plea challenging the Allahabad High Court judgement upholding the Uttar Pradesh government’s refusal to allow sanction to prosecute Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in a 2007 hate speech case.
Reserving its order, a bench of Chief Justice of India N V Ramana and Justices Hima Kohli and C T Ravikumar asked the petitioners and respondents to file their written submissions in the matter.
Petitioner Parvez Parwaz had challenged the UP government’s May 3, 2017, decision, contending that Yogi had become CM by then and whether he therefore could have participated in the process to grant sanction. However, the HC dismissed the plea on February 22, 2018, finding no procedural error in the probe or the refusal to grant sanction. Following this, he approached the SC.
Appearing for Parwaz, Advocate Fuzzail Ayyubi said the HC had not gone into the question “whether the state can pass an order under Section 196 (CrPC) in respect of a proposed accused in a criminal case who in the meantime gets elected as the Chief Minister and is the executive head as per the scheme provided under Article 163”.
Section 196 says no court shall take cognisance of offence under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) or 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) except with the sanction of the Central or the state government.
The CJI pointed out that a closure report had already been filed and asked how there could be any question of sanction after this.
Ayyubi said the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory had examined the DVD containing the speech and the investigation by the Crime Branch had found prima facie offence and sought sanction for prosecution, which was declined.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the UP government countered the submissions and said the CFSL had found that the DVDs are not original and were edited and tampered with. Hence, there was no material available to allow sanction to prosecute, he pointed out.
He added that the matter had not gone to the CM saying that “it occurs only when there is a dispute between the Law and Home departments”. In the present case, the Home department had concurred with the view of the Law department, he added. Rohatgi also questioned the bona fides of the appellant.