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Allahabad HC rejects ex-BJP MLA's plea to suspend conviction in 2013 Muzzafarnagar riots case

Allahabad HC rejects ex-BJP MLA's plea to suspend conviction in 2013 Muzzafarnagar riots case

Prayagraj,  The Allahabad high court has turned down disqualified BJP MLA Vikram Saini's plea to suspend his conviction in 2013 Muzaffarnagar riot case.

Justice Samit Gopal said in his order that the "grounds taken by the appellant do not in any manner appeal to the court. The criminal activities resulting in disqualification are related to various spheres pertaining to the interest of the nation, common citizenry interest, communal harmony, and prevalence of good governance. Merely by pleading that appellant will stand disqualified by the conviction is no ground to suspend it".

The court also said, "The law as is continuously being held, reiterated and referred to is that powers of suspension of conviction should be exercised in rare cases only. The conviction of the appellant is for rioting, rioting armed with deadly weapon, endangering life or personal safety of others, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging his duty, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace and criminal intimidation, which had caused a law-and-order problem and had thrown the peace of the citizens out of gear."

The court pointed out that "Section 8 of the Representation of People's Act, 1951, stipulates the disqualification after conviction in certain offences. The offences under the Indian Penal Code covered by the Act are which have the potentiality to destroy the core values of a healthy democracy, safety of the state, economic stability, national security, and prevalence and sustenance of peace and harmony among citizens and many others".

On November 18, the high court had suspended the sentence awarded to Saini by the MP/MLA Court in the riot case, granted him bail and fixed November 22 for hearing the application seeking suspension of conviction in the same case.

The counsel representing Saini had taken the plea that he (Saini) was implicated in the present case due to political vendetta, as a government headed by a rival party was in power when the Muzaffarnagar riots took place in 2013. Besides, it is a case of no injury and no public witness is available.

It was also contended on behalf of his counsel that as a consequence of conviction, Saini has been declared disqualified as MLA and his assembly constituency -- Khatauli -- had become vacant.

In addition to it, as per Section 8 of the Representation of People's Act, he cannot contest election for a subsequent period of six years, as he has been convicted by a court. Hence, in view of it, his conviction may be suspended in the interest of justice, the counsel further pleaded.

On the other hand, the counsel appearing on behalf of the state government opposed the prayer for suspending the conviction.

Rejecting all the pleas taken by Saini's counsel, the court said: "The grounds as taken do not in any manner appeal to the court. There is a full-fledged trial conducted after which the appellant has been convicted. The trial court has found the evidence to be trustworthy and reliable."

After Saini's disqualification, the bypoll for the Khatauli Assembly constituency is scheduled to be held on December 5.

Special judge, MP/MLA Court, Muzaffarnagar, had on October 11 sentenced Saini, who was an elected MLA from Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar, and 10 others to two years' imprisonment in a case relating to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.

The court had convicted and sentenced Saini on charges related to Sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of other), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provide breach of peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and others. The court had dropped the charge of attempt to murder against all of them.

Saini had challenged his conviction and sentence before the high court by filing the present criminal appeal.

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