The Allahabad High Court on Monday allowed a plea challenging the Uttar Pradesh government’s refusal to grant sanction to prosecute Chief Minister Adityanath in a communal riots case, reported PTI. A division bench agreed to hear the amendment application of Parvez Parwaz and Asad Hayat who had sought a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the 2007 Gorakhpur riots.

The court asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file a counter affidavit in the case and fixed the next date of hearing on August 9. Besides Adityanath, Anju Chaudhary, who was then the Gorakhpur mayor, and MLA Radha Mohan Das Agrawal have also been named accused in the case.

“We had submitted that we should be allowed to challenge the government’s decision to refuse sanction since one of the accused in the case is heading the state government,” petitioners’ counsel SFA Naqvi told PTI.

Adityanath has been accused of making a hate speech in 2007. The UP government had told the Allahabad High Court on May 11 that it had not granted permission to prosecute the chief minister in the case. The high court had summoned Chief Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar to explain the delay in prosecuting five people, including Adityanath, in the communal riots case.

Explaining the government’s decision, Chief Secretary Bhatnagar had said that a forensic examination of a CD of the alleged hate speech was found to have been tampered with. He added that the investigating agencies have proposed to close the case.

The Gorakhpur incident

On the night of January 26, 2007, a group of men had allegedly molested women who were part of a musical troupe, and had then joined a passing Moharram procession. There was firing on the procession, following which clashes broke out. A Hindu man was killed.

Curfew was then imposed in parts of the city. The next evening, violating Section 144 that prohibited the assembly of more than four people, Adityanath had delivered a speech outside Gorakhpur railway station. According to the petitioners, Adityanath’s provocative speech had led to riots in Gorakhpur and surrounding areas. Two people had died, and there was extensive damage to homes, shops and vehicles.

In February 2017, the state government had told the court that the Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department had asked the state government for permission to prosecute Adityanath under Section 153(a) for promoting enmity between groups. Investigating officer Chandra Bhushan Upadhyaya said that he had filed his report in 2015.