In a significant development, a Gujarat court has dismissed Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG) Shri VK Saxena’s plea for immunity and has granted permission for his trial. Shri VK Saxena has been accused of attacking a woman inside Sabarmati Ashram, and had been attempting to avoid trial. However, the court has rejected his claim that the post of Lieutenant Governor is above the Governor and just below the President, which is false. In his plea, Shri VK Saxena had cited Article 361(2), which grants immunity only to the President and the Governor. However, the court ruled that the LG is not above the law and can be held responsible for spending government money without constitutional power. AAP Senior Leader and Delhi Minister Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj stated that Shri VK Saxena, like any other common man, can be held accountable for his actions, and IPC sections can be invoked against him.
Addressing a press conference on the issue, Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj said that an interesting court order that has some important implications in the future was issued by a trial court in Gujarat yesterday. In this order, one of the parties fighting the case is representing Accused No 4 in the Magistrate Court of Ahmedabad Metropolitan Chief, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Ahmedabad in Court No 21.
Revealing that the Accused No 4 in this case is the present Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena, Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj said that he has a criminal case filed against him for an incident that took place in 2002. Providing further details, he said that in the Sabarmati Ashram that is world famous for its association with Mahatma Gandhi, an unfortunate incident of violence took place and the present LG of Delhi was a part of it.
He added that this place is like a place of pilgrimage for most citizens of the country. In 2002, a few civil rights activists and journalists were participating in a peace meeting during the infamous 2002 Gujarat riots. A few anti-social elements accompanied with sticks interrupted this meeting and abused and pushed the women who were present over there. The two miscreants involved in this incident are now MLAs of the BJP and the third person who was with them is the present Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena. Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj said that since 2002 a criminal case has been pending against the Delhi LG and it is said that he had a crucial role to play in the incident.
Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj also played a video in which a group of men could be seen harassing a woman and physically attacking her with sticks. He said that this woman was Smt Medha Patkar, a well-known activist and added that she was forced to run and lock herself in a room to save her life.
Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj revealed that in this case, Shri VK Saxena filed an application in the court and claimed that he is not an ordinary individual and as he holds a constitutional post, he is liable to get immunity in this case.
Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj read out the provision of Art 362 (2) of the constitution quoted in the application of Shri VK Saxena. “It is titled “Protection of President and Governors”, but Shri VK Saxena is neither the President nor a Governor. This subsection states that ‘no criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or the Governor of a state in any court during his term of office’. So, this is very clear. Essentially the immunity that Shri VK Saxena was demanding is in reality for either the President or the Governors,” he said.
He said that the argument made in the application that was filed by Shri VK Saxena is laughable. “He wrote that the rank of the Lieutenant Governor is above that of the Governor. Shri VK Saxena also argued that the status of Delhi LG is greater than the Governor of Union Territories, as the Governor of the state is selected by the Central Government and appointed by the President of India,” he said.
Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj also expressed shock at the response of the Gujarat Government in this matter and said that the state government should ideally have opposed this plea but it remained quiet on the matter, as Shri VK Saxena has been appointed to a constitutional post by the BJP-led Central Government.
The Delhi Cabinet Minister said that the argument made by the LG that his rank is above that of the Governor is nothing but lies. He went on to argue that the rank of the Colonel is above that of Lieutenant Colonel. “The officer first becomes a Lieutenant Colonel and then later becomes a Colonel. Similarly an officer first becomes a Lieutenant General and then later a General. Similarly, the Lieutenant Governor is below the rank of Governor,” he said.
Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj said that even a student of 6th grade will have this basic knowledge on these posts. He said that the LG’s argument that the rank of Lieutenant Governor is above that of the Governor and below that of the President is a joke. “It is good to see that Shri VK Saxena said that his post is below that of the President. Otherwise, the way he behaves, he is capable of soon declaring his post to be the most important one in the country,” he quipped.
Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj applauded the order released by the trial court yesterday in which it rejected the argument of Shri VK Saxena and said that he is not liable to be protected by any such immunity. “This opens up many new paths. Every other day we see the LG give orders to various departments of the Delhi Government to get certain work done, all of this has no basis. This court order makes it clear that the LG can be prosecuted even for this role in his official tasks. He is not protected by any immunity that is extended to the Governor,” he said.
He pointed out that when a person who holds a constitutional post gets any official work done under his orders, then he is liable to face action if there is misuse of public funds. He added that the LG can even face a criminal case or be investigated if there is any misuse of his position. He highlighted that the court order yesterday made it very clear that he does not have any immunity under the Constitution of India.
Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj also added that the people of Delhi have now gotten to know the unfortunate conduct of their LG in the past. “The present LG of Delhi was involved in an incident in which a bunch of goons entered the Sabarmati Ashram with sticks and verbally abused and attacked women. This incident took place 22 years ago and the trial has not begun in the court just because there has been a BJP-led government in Gujarat,” he said.
He slammed Shri VK Saxena saying that the LG often writes letters to the departments of Delhi Government if a file that is to be given to him is delayed by a few days. But in this case, he has delayed his trial by 22 years and even now he is trying to extend it by claiming immunity which he does not have.
He concluded by saying that the case against Shri VK Saxena is filed under the section of unlawful assembly and explained that in such a situation if one person murders somebody then everyone is charged for the murder. “Shri VK Saxena in this cannot claim that the person with the stick was someone else. All of these people gathered here together and under the section of unlawful assembly, they will all be prosecuted for the attacks on the civil society members gathered at the Sabarmati Ashram,” he said.