New Delhi: The Delhi government on Friday permitted the prosecution of Left leader Kanhaiya Kumar and nine others over a long-pending sedition case which alleges the former Jawaharlal Nehru University student led a procession that chanted “anti-national” slogans during an on-campus event in February 2016.
The permission comes nine days after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal promised his government will take an early decision on grant of sanction to prosecute Mr Kanhaiya in the sedition case after a trial court had asked Delhi Police to file a status report on April 3. The file was pending with AAP minister Satyendar Jain, who also handles the home department which is responsible for taking such decisions.
The government had kept the file for the prosecution of Mr Kumar and other former JNU students for more than a year. Under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), investigating agencies have to take the approval or sanction of the state government while filing charge-sheets in sedition cases.
The sanction has been granted nearly 11 months after the court on April 6, 2019, asked the AAP government to take a decision with a reasonable timeframe — three months — while noting that the delay was leading to a violation of the due process of law. The government then told court that it needed more time to assess if the speeches made by Mr Kumar and nine others were seditious in nature and said it would decide within a month after receiving the opinion of its standing counsel. It also accused Delhi Police of filing the charge-sheet in the 2016 incident in a “secret and hasty manner”.
The prosecution of Mr Kumar and others in the sedition case had become a rallying point in the recent Assembly elections in Delhi in which the BJP had accused the AAP of “shielding” those who were “working against” the country.
It was in January last year that a 1,200-page charge-sheet, naming Mr Kumar and nine others, including former JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, was filed in the trial court. The charge-sheet alleged that the accused led a procession on the anniversary of the hanging of Parliament attack mastermind Azfal Guru and supported the shouting of seditious slogans during the event.
The court had, however, refused the charge-sheet on the ground that prior sanction for prosecution was required from the Delhi government. At that time the court directed the cops to get sanction by February 6, 2019. When the police failed to get the requisite sanction, the court had observed that the authorities cannot sit on a file indefinitely. The request for sanction had been pending since.
The Delhi Police reports to the Union home ministry in the BJP-led government at the Centre, a political opponent of the AAP that is in power in the national capital. Both Mr Kumar and Mr Khalid have said that the case is “politically motivated”.
Mr Kumar, who has emerged as a sharp critic of the ruling BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, made his electoral debut in last year’s Lok Sabha election. He contested from Bihar’s Begusarai seat on a Communist Party of India (CPI) ticket but lost to the BJP’s Giriraj Singh by over 4 lakh votes.