The Supreme Court today directed the Uttar Pradesh government to withdraw forthwith charges under the National Security Act against BJP leader Varun Gandhi which were imposed for his alleged hate speeches.
"The state government shall forthwith withdraw the detention order against Varun Gandhi under the NSA," a bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said.
The apex court disposed of the petition filed by Varun challenging the imposition of the NSA as well as the application filed by the Uttar Pradesh government seeking setting aside the decision of the State Advisory Board recommending revocation of the stringent law against him. After the Bench, also comprising Justices P Sathsavim and Deepak Verma passed the order, the BJP leader's counsel and senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi did not press for the second petition seeking exemplary damages of Rs 10 lakh from the Uttar Pradesh government.
The bench was also critical of the UP government approaching it with an application against the decision of the State Advisory Board which had not found sufficient ground for invocation of NSA against the 29-year-old BJP leader.
The apex court took exception to the submission made by the state government that the District Magistrate (DM) of Pilibhit could not be heard and only the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) was present before the Advisory Board during the hearing.
"This cannot be a ground to challenge the decision of the Advisory Board. The ADM was present. He must have been instructed by the DM," the bench observed.
The court asked why the authority (DM) was not present. Varun's counsel said that the provisions of the law clearly said that the case will be revoked upon the recommendation of the Advisory Board.
He said that "some game" was going on and the state government has violated the law. The three-member U.P Advisory Board (Detentions) headed by senior judge of the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court Justice Pradeep Kant had on May 8 told the state government that "there is no sufficient ground to detain Varun under NSA and directed revocation of detention order of March 29.
Welcoming the Supreme Court's order, Varun's aunt Ambika Shukla accused the state government of being vindictive and acting for petty political gains. "We welcome the Supreme Court decision. The advisory board has actually given this decision on the 8th of this month earlier at which point, it became incumbent (on) for the State government to withdraw the NSA order forthwith.
"Unfortunately, due to petty political considerations, it did not follow the law and instead chose to file the application in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has found the application non-tenable and dismissed the NSA order forthwith," she told CNN-IBN news channel.
However, the order of the apex court has come as a relief for the family members, she said. "Better late than never. We welcome the order and are greatly relieved," Shukla added.