In a shocking development, the Uttar Pradesh government has withdrawn 77 out of the 510 cases registered against 6,869 accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, in which more than 60 had people died and hundreds were injured.
Several of the 77 cases, withdrawn without providing reasons, related to offences of dacoity under Section 397 of the Indian Penal Code and were punishable with life imprisonment.
The revelation was part of a report filed by amicus curiae senior advocate Vijay Hansaria in the Supreme Court (SC) in a case relating to expediting cases against MPs and MLAs.
The UP government “merely states that the administration after full consideration has taken a decision to withdraw the particular cases”, the report, filed through advocate Sneha Kalita, stated.
The Yogi Adityanath government withdrew the cases under Section 321 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) despite the SC’s earlier direction on August 10 that cases against MPs and MLAs cannot be withdrawn without the High Court’s permission.
The apex court had said that High Courts should examine such withdrawals, whether pending or disposed of since September 16, 2020, in light of guidelines laid down by it.
“It is submitted that withdrawal from prosecution under Section 321 of the CrPC is permissible in the public interest and cannot be done for political consideration. Such applications can be made in good faith, in the interest of public policy and justice and not to thwart or stifle the process of law,” Hansaria said.
Hansaria said that the 77 cases could be examined by the High Court by exercising revisional jurisdiction under section 401 of CrPC in the light of the law laid down by this Court.
Given the “repeated misuse of power by the State in withdrawing prosecution for political and extraneous considerations”, Hansaria said that the court may issue some directions in addition to present guidelines.
Hansaria said that the court may direct the government to instruct the public prosecutor that only if the government feels that the prosecution was launched maliciously and there was no foundation for prosecuting the accused, the case can be withdrawn. “Such an order can be passed for reasons to be recorded for each case by the home secretary of the concerned state.”
Hansaria also pointed out that Karnataka too has withdrawn 62 cases, Tamil Nadu 4, Telangana 14 cases and Kerala 36 without assigning reasons. He had earlier pointed out that UP, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Karnataka had sought to withdraw criminal cases against politicians by using Section 321.