SC to AAP MP: Can’t divide society over caste, religion (Ld)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted protection from arrest to Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh in an alleged hate speech case lodged against him in Uttar Pradesh, however it remarked that he cannot divide society on lines of caste and religion.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy said: “In the meantime, we direct that the petitioner be not arrested in Crime No. 221 of 2020 under Sections 153A, 153B, 501, 505(2), IPC registered at P.S. Hazratganj, Lucknow. Counter affidavit be filed within two weeks.”

The bench observed that the UP police could seek sanction from the Rajya Sabha chairperson to prosecute Singh in the cases and also sought response from the Uttar Pradesh government. During the hearing, the bench cautioned that Singh cannot divide society on lines of caste and religion. “Looking into the nature of the issue which has been raised in the present case, the matter needs to be finally decided on the next date. List the matter in the third week of March, 2021”, said the top court.

Singh’s lawyer Vivek Tankha contended that since Singh was a Rajya Sabha member, the permission for his prosecution should have been given by the Chair of the Upper House. Tankha said that identical FIRs have been filed against the AAP leader at dozen places.

After a brief hearing, the bench directed that Singh should not be arrested in the criminal cases registered against him and adjourned the matter for further hearing in the third week of March.

The Supreme Court also issued notice on his plea for clubbing of all FIRs. Singh has cited eight FIRs filed in Lucknow, Sant Kabir Nagar, Khiri, Bagpat, Muzaffarnagar, Basti and Aligarh etc.

“Issue notice limited to the question as to whether the FIRs registered against the petitioner as mentioned at page B and C at Sr. Nos.1 to 7 of synopsis be clubbed with FIR mentioned at Page C at Sr. No. 8 registered at P.S. Hazratganj, Lucknow, Crime No. 221 of 2020”, said the top court.

On February 2, Singh failed to get immediate relief from the Supreme Court in a matter pertaining to non-bailable warrant (NBW) issued in a case lodged in Lucknow after his press conference on August 12 last year, wherein he alleged that the state government was favouring a certain section of society.

Singh has moved the top court to seek quashing of FIRs lodged against him in different districts of UP after his press conference and claimed that these cases were a result of “political vendetta”.

In his plea, the Rajya Sabha member said that he had merely highlighted certain social issues and the alleged apathy of the state government against certain section of society.