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Law & Judiciary

Ex-BJP MLA's request to suspend conviction in 2013 Muzzafarnagar riots case is denied by the Allahabad High Court

The Hawk
November24/ 2022

Prayagraj (The Hawk): Vikram Saini, a disqualified BJP MLA, had asked the Allahabad high court to stay his conviction in the Muzaffarnagar riot case from 2013.

In his judgement, Justice Samit Gopal stated that the "The appellant's arguments don't in any way persuade the court. Criminal offences that result in disqualification relate to a variety of areas that are important to the national interest, the interests of regular citizens, comradery among neighbours, and the predominance of good governance. The mere assertion that the appellant will be rendered ineligible by the conviction is not sufficient to suspend it ".

The court added, "The law states that the ability to suspend a conviction should only be used in exceptional circumstances. This is consistently asserted, reaffirmed, and referred to. The appellant was found guilty of rioting, rioting while in possession of a deadly weapon, endangering the life or personal safety of others, assault or use of unlawful force to prevent a public servant from performing his duties, malicious insult with the intent to cause a breach of peace, and criminal intimidation, all of which contributed to a breakdown in law and order and disturbed the peace of the community."

The court emphasised that "The disqualification following conviction for a specific offence is specified in Section 8 of the Representation of People's Act of 1951. The Act covers offences under the Indian Penal Code that have the potential to undermine fundamental principles of a healthy democracy, state security, economic stability, and the maintenance of peace and harmony among citizens, among many other things ".

On November 18, the high court postponed the MP/MLA Court's sentencing for Saini in the riot case, gave him bail, and set a hearing date of November 22 for the application to suspend Saini's conviction in the same case.

As a government led by a different party was in office when the Muzaffarnagar riots occurred in 2013, Saini's attorney said that he (Saini) was implicated in the current case owing to political retribution. Additionally, there has been no injury in this case, and no available public witnesses.

Additionally, Saini's attorney argued that his assembly seat in Khatauli had become empty and that Saini had been declared unable to serve as an MLA as a result of his conviction.

In addition, because he was found guilty by a court, he is ineligible to run for office for a subsequent six years under Section 8 of the Representation of People's Act. The attorney continued by pleading for the suspension of his conviction in light of this.

The state government's legal representative, on the other hand, objected to the request to have the conviction suspended.

The court denied every argument made by Saini's attorney, saying: "The arguments made do not in any way persuade the court. There has been a thorough trial, and the appellant has been found guilty. The trial court determined that the evidence was reliable and trustworthy."

The byelection for the Khatauli Assembly constituency is set to take place on December 5 following Saini's disqualification.

In a case involving the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, a special court at the MP/MLA Court in Muzaffarnagar had sentenced Saini and 10 other people to two years in prison on October 11. Saini was an elected MLA from Khatauli.

On charges relating to Sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of another), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provide breach of peace), 506 (criminal intimidation), and others, the court had found Saini guilty and sentenced him. The attempted murder accusation against each of them had been withdrawn by the court.

Saini had filed the current criminal appeal to dispute his conviction and punishment before the high court.

(Inputs from Agencies)