The Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to refuse sanction for the prosecution of Chief Minister Aditynanath and others named in a first information report for allegedly inciting communal violence in Gorakhpur in 2007 has prompted a vital question. Is it legitimate for the state’s Home department to deliberate on the request of Uttar Pradesh Police, which comes under this very department that is seeking sanction to prosecute the chief minister, who also happens to be the home minister of Uttar Pradesh?

Parvez Parvaz, complainant in one of the FIRs lodged after the 2007 incident, spoke to over phone: “That is the most disturbing thing about the state government’s decision, which was conveyed to the Allahabad High Court by state Chief Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar through an affidavit filed on May 11.”

Calling it “a subversion of constitutional scheme of things” and a clear case of “clash of interest”, Parvez, Gorakhpur-based journalist and activist, asked who should decide whether Adityanath should be prosecuted. “How can Adityanath, who has kept the Home portfolio to himself, reject or accept a request of state police seeking his ministry’s sanction to prosecute him? Isn’t it like an accused sitting on a judge’s chair?”

The request has been pending with the Home department since July 10, 2015, when the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department, after completing its investigation of Adityanath’s alleged hate speech on January 27, 2007, which resulted in riots in Gorakhpur and nearby areas, sought the state government’s permission against him and four others.

Candid camera

Parvez, who recorded the speech through a handy-cam, tried to lodge an FIR but the police turned him away. It was only after the High Court’s intervention on September 26, 2008 that he was able to file an FIR at the Cantonment police station in Gorakhpur. According to the FIR, Adityanath, who was then the Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Gorakhpur, delivered speeches allegedly seeking “revenge” for the death of a Hindu boy who was injured – and later died – in a clash between two groups during a Muharram procession.

Since 2015, the police request remained on the table of the Home department and the government did not take any action on it. On May 11, however, the state government told the court that sanction for prosecution was refused because the CD, which was presented as the main evidence, had been “tampered” with. The affidavit said this conclusion was reached by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in October 2014.

Parvez, who himself recorded the speech, has this to say: “For the past 10 years affidavits and counter affidavits were filed, mentioning the CD. The Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department conducted an enquiry on the basis of the CD. It found merit in the case, and that is why it sought permission from the state government for prosecution. The CD was authentic all these years since 2014. But now the government’s affidavit says the CD is doctored and questionable. If it was so, the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department should not have done an elaborate exercise before placing its request to prosecute Adityanath and others.”

The court has granted time to Parvez’s counsel SFA Naqvi to file “an amendment application to challenge the refusal of sanction for prosecution”.
The next hearing in the matter has been scheduled for July 7.