On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of India refused to pass an order after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh moved the apex court, seeking protection from arrest against a non-bailable warrant in a case registered by the Uttar Pradesh police.
A First Information Report (FIR) was lodged against the AAP leader after he had accused the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh of being ‘pro-Thakur’ in a press conference on August 12, 2020. Sanjay Singh had also claimed in his press conference that the BJP had insulted the Dalits by not inviting President Ram Nath Kovind for the ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
Supreme Court refuses to pass any order on #AAP Rajya Sabha MP, Sanjay Singh’s plea seeking protection from arrest, in connection with FIRs registered against him under various charges, including sedition, in Uttar Pradesh.#SupremeCourt to hear the plea next week. #TV9News— tv9gujarati (@tv9gujarati) February 2, 2021
Following multiple FIRs against him, Singh had approached the Supreme Court to quash all the charges or alternatively transfer them outside of the State. He had also filed a separate petition against the order of Allahabad High Court, which refused to quash the charges on January 21 this year. However, a Supreme Court Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R S Reddy on Tuesday refused to pass any verdict without going through the Allahabad High Court’s order first.
In his writ petition to the Supreme Court, Sanjay Singh’s lawyer Sumeer Sodhi said, “In the said press conference, the petitioner had merely raised certain social issues, namely neglect and apathy of the government towards a certain class of society.” When his lawyers urged the court for relief, the Judges noted that Singh can avail exemption from appearance before the trial court instead. The matter has been adjourned till the following week.
Details of the FIR against Sanjay Singh
A Lucknow-based lawyer, Avinash Tripathi, had filed a complaint with the Hazratganj Police against Singh last year for making derogatory remarks with an intention to disrupt communal harmony.
A case was registered against the AAP leader under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 153 b (assertions prejudicial to national integration), 501 (printing matters which are defamatory) and 505-2 (promoting hatred). Similar cases were registered against him in Sant Kabirnagar, Aligarh, Muzaffarnagar, Lakhimpur Khiri and Greater Noida.
AAP leader cries foul, alleges ‘political vendetta’
Sanjay Singh had claimed that the FIRs against him were politically motivated. He alleged, “(The cases) are manifestly attended with mala fides and have been maliciously instituted to unleash political vendetta against the petitioner and to harass him…The said FIRs have been filed against the petitioner out of the malice and sheer political vendetta with intent to coerce, harass and intimidate the petitioner as a part of larger ploy to muzzle the opposition leaders, from speaking up against the government of Uttar Pradesh”.
Labelling the cases as,”frivolous, baseless, vexatious”, the AAP leader claimed that 7 FIRs were registered, with the same verbatim, in several districts of the State in about a few hours’ time. He alleged that the cases against him were against the constitutional right of freedom of speech and expression (Article 19). He added that the Yogi government’s main aim is to stop him from campaigning in the 2022 UP polls.