A poorly carried out investigation and shabbily prepared chargesheet gave Varun Gandhi reprieve from the stringent National Security Act.
This was clearly borne out in the High Court Advisory Board's recommendation for the revocation of NSA against 29- year old Gandhi, who had overnight acquired the mantle of Bhartiya Janata Party's Hindutva mascot.
The 13-page confidential report, unanimously signed by the three-member judicial panel headed by Justice Pradeep Kant, senior judge of the High Court's Lucknow bench with two retired HC judges S N Sahai and P K Sareen, clearly pointed out that there was "no sufficient cause" for the detention of Varun Gandhi under the NSA.
"The detention order stands vitiated due to non-application of mind and breach of rules of natural justice and acting fairly on the part of the detaining authority and also due to contravention of the provisions of Article 22 (5) of the Constitution by denying the detenu his right to make a representation against the impugned detention order," the report clearly said.
Legal experts were of the view that if the state police had taken the desired care to carry out their task properly, Varun would not have been let off . According to former state advocate general Virendra Bhatia, "Top bosses of the police and home department were solely responsible for letting Varun go scot free, after all the whole case was being monitored by people at the highest level where they needed to have done a fool proof job."
Varun's key opponent and Pilibhit's Congress nominee V M Singh was of the view, "The poorly drafted NSA case against Varun Gandhi was more than proof to establish an underhand deal between the BJP and BSP who have been supplementing each other, otherwise there could be no reason for the cops to prepare a weak case for detention under the toughest law of the land."
He alleged over the telephone from Pilibhit, "Sure enough the Mayawati admsinistration's idea must have been to first make Varun a Hindutva hero and then try to woo Muslims for the BSP by claiming how firm her administration had been in dealing with an anti-Muslim insolent brat and at the same time preparing a weak case so as to get him easy reprieve."
The High Court's advisory board has expressed surprise that the concerned authorities have overlooked and ignored fundamental principles of natural justice while dealing with Varun's case. The board wonder how could the FIR have been lodged at the behest of the district magistrate, who had also issued the formal NSA order. "The district magistrate has used his own FIRs and allegations made therein for the purpose of arriving at his subjective satisfaction in this case. This raises a question of bias and legal malafides. It is a settled rule of natural justice that no person can be judge in his own cause. It is a rule of fairplay and part of the constitutional obligation of the administrative authorities to act fairly" , says the report.
Pointing out yet another serious flaw in the detention order, the report adds, " The detaining authority has also overlooked the fact that the detenu had already been admitted to jail at 1430 hrs on March 28, while the alleged incident of violence took place at the jail gates at 1445 hrs, which was evident from the contents of the FIR itself. There was also no allegation of any role of the detenu in the said incident."
The report further questions the role of the district magistrate with respect to the hate speech delivered by Varun Gandhi in Barkhera town of Pilibhit constituency on March 7. "The FIR of ths case also shows that a report was called from the Pilibhit superintendent of police on some letter of district election officer dated March 18, 2009. The district magistrate, on getting the SP's report, perused the report of Local Intelligence Unit and some CD and then directed the FIR to be registered", it said, while refering to a privately obtained CD with recordings of Varun's inflammatory speeches .
The report points out , "the CD in question has not been produced before the detention authority, nor has the same been furnished to the detenu", while going on to add, "the detention order thus stands vitiated on account of the failure to place the CD for consideration of the detention authority and to furnish the same to the detenu for making an effective representation."
The submission of the report to the Mayawati government on May 8, did lead to loud proclamations by her official spokesman about challenging the same before the country's apex court. However, considering that the election process would come to an end over the next few days makes one wonder whether its all an exercise in futility?