Should criminal cases against politicians be withdrawn?
Reply to an application filed under the RTI Act has revealed that during the 14 year tenure as the Chief Minister, Ms Sheila Dikshit has been instrumental in withdrawal of criminal prosecution against a host of Congress and BJP leaders.
The beneficiary of largesse include late Arjun Singh, former UP Chief Minister Narayan Datt Tiwari, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Haryana minister Randeep Singh Surjewala, her cabinet colleague Raj Kumar Chauhan and the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmad Bukhari.
Under Section 321 of the CrPC, the public prosecutor, with the consent of the court, can withdraw from the prosecution of any person at any time before the judgment is pronounced for certain offences and the Lieutenant Governor enjoys special powers to direct the prosecution to withdraw a case.
The cases withdrawn from prosecution include a case booked against Mr. ND Tiwari and Mr. Arjun Singh for breaking Section 144 of the CrPC near Parliament, clashing with security personnel and throwing stones at security personnel. The court had issued non-bailable warrant against some of the accused but the CM desired that the sanction for prosecution for the case should be withdrawn. Mr. Hooda and Mr. Surjewala were booked under the West Bengal Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1976, and Section 188 of the IPC respectively. Against the advice of the then DCP (headquarters), the cases were withdrawn in “public interest”.
The case against Mr. Bukhari was made for assaulting CPWD executive engineer B.L. Gupta in charge of building a wall on government land near a mosque. Bukhari evaded a bailable warrant and didn't appear before the court, despite the non-bailable warrant. However, the case was withdrawn against him even though the prosecution argued that the withdrawal of the case would send a wrong message to society.
The LG ordered withdrawal of court cases against 16 BJP MLAs, including Jagdish Mukhi, Harsh Vardhan, Karan Singh Tanwar, Shahib Singh Chauhan, Sudhil Chaudhary and Vijay Jolly who were booked for breaching Section 144 of the CrPC near the state assembly on November 2, 2006.
The situation may not be different at other places. Should the withdrawal of cases not be based on some transparent criteria?