Hc Castigates State Govt For Bid To Withdraw Criminal Case Against Mla, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat high court on Wednesday censured the state authorities, especially the special public prosecutor of Devbhoomi Dwarka, who was appointed to conduct cases against MPs/MLAs, for their efforts to save the sitting BJP MLA from Jamkhambhalia, Dharmendrasinh alias Hakubha Jadeja, from a criminal case he has been facing since 2007.

Justice Niral Mehta rejected an application filed by special prosecutor Kamleshkumar Dave for the HC’s permission to withdraw the criminal prosecution against the MLA and 45 others and the court dubbed the special prosecutor a “puppet” and “postman” of the government. The court further said the prosecutor has not fulfilled his obligation to the court as envisaged under the law in order to please his superior authorities. The HC further said that his effort to withdraw the prosecution against the MLA is “nothing but an abuse of process of law at the discretion of the public prosecutor.”

In this case, Jadeja and 45 others were booked for rioting, causing damage to property belonging to a company, Essar, and causing injuries to people during an agitation in 2007. A criminal case has been pending against them in a magisterial court in Khambhalia.

Earlier, an application for withdrawal of prosecution in this case was rejected by the magisterial court in October 2020 and then the order was confirmed by a sessions court in December 2020.

This order of rejection attained finality. This had happened despite a negative opinion from the then assistant public prosecutor.

After the Supreme Court’s order to expedite criminal cases against elected representatives in 2020, Dave was appointed special prosecutor.

Despite the rejection of the request for withdrawal of the prosecution once, Dave filed another application for it, which is pending before the Khambhalia magistrate’s court.

Meanwhile, the apex court ordered that no case against an MPs/MLAs can be allowed to be withdrawn without sanction from the high court. This led Dave to file a petition in the HC for the permission.

Before the HC, the state government submitted that the prosecution may be allowed to be withdrawn in public interest. “Since the agitation involving Jadeja was for the interests of agriculturists and no personal interest of his was involved, prosecution may be withdrawn in the larger public interest.”

Justice Mehta was not convinced with the government’s stand and noted that Jadeja was a member of the district panchayat then. He is now a sitting MLA. As he is one of the accused in this case, there reasons to believe that the APP was earlier made to request the withdrawal of prosecution under his pressure despite the negative opinion. “Thus, this court firmly believes that any how and at any cost, the state government is trying to save its sitting MLA under the provisions of Section 321 of the CrPC under the pretext of larger public interest,” the HC said.

The HC also said, “Merely because the accused is now a sitting MLA, there cannot be any differential treatment extended to him. The accused cannot be allowed, on the basis of his subsequently acquired status of MLA, to claim distinguishable privilege than that of normal citizen.” It said that the court cannot ignore the problems faced by the victims of this event.

The HC expressed shock at the special prosecutor filing a second similar application “without application of mind” to see that “the sitting MLA shall escape from liability to undergo rigours of trial”.

While rejecting the application, Justice Mehta said if the HC allowed this application, “in that event, every now and then upon rejection of withdrawal of prosecution by the courts, the learned APP would be changed and the said changed learned APP would make a fresh application for withdrawal of prosecution, which cannot be permitted to be allowed”.

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