The Assam and the Uttar Pradesh governments on Friday opposed in the Supreme Court a plea of Congress leader Pawan Khera seeking clubbing of FIRs lodged for his alleged objectionable remarks against the prime minister, claiming his party was still continuing with the "very same low level" on their social media accounts.The Uttar Pradesh government sought dismissal of the plea with a cost by terming it as "misconceived" and "an attempt to leapfrogging the routine normal procedure available under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)"."That it is submitted that the leaders of the political party (Congress) to which the petitioner (Khera) belongs have, even after this hon'ble court taking cognizance of the matter, continued the very same low level in their official Twitter handles and other social media account," the Assam government said.
The responses were filed in the top court by the two states through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on the day when a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud extended till March 17 the interim bail granted to Khera in the cases related to his alleged objectionable remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Opposing the prayer for transfer and clubbing of the FIR, registered at Haflong police station in Dima Hasao district, with the complaint lodged at Lucknow, the Assam government filed its reply through Assistant Resident Commissioner Dhrubajyoti Nath."The petitioner has neither tendered any apology in the petition nor has tendered any apology after this court passed an order on February 23 and the submission made before this court tendering an apology clearly appears to be a tactical submission to get a preventive order without any genuine remorse or repentance," the Assam government said.
The reply further said there cannot be any apology for having committed a criminal offence, and it was Khera's counsel who stated that the accused had tendered an apology. It said no grounds were made out by the accused to transfer and club the FIR registered in the state with the police reports registered in Uttar Pradesh."It is seen that the FIR registered at Dima Hasao, Assam is qualitatively different from in its scope, as compared to the FIRS at Lucknow and Varanasi. Thus even the scope of the investigation, especially the criminal conspiracy being a distinct offence, would need to be independently investigated," it said. At the present stage, it would be of paramount importance that free and fair investigation be allowed to continue in the interest of justice and truth, the Assam government said.
The reply affidavit said that a closer look at the available audio and video clearly revealed that Khera had "mischievously uttered sentences not only with an extreme degree of irresponsibility but reducing the level of discourse at its lowest". Khera's use of words and demeanour at the press conference made it apparent that the offences were "intentionally planned and perpetrated", it said. "This is further reinforced by the fact that the accused or petitioner had not even expressed one word of apology in his entire writ petition," the reply said.In a separate reply, the Uttar Pradesh government gave details of the FIRs filed in Lucknow and Varanasi against Khera and said the probe agencies at both places were in the process of ascertaining the truth and have recorded statements of complainants and other witnesses.
The response, filed through Mahendra Singh, special secretary of Home Department, said the "petition under Article 32 (of the Constitution) constitutes an attempt of leapfrogging the routine normal procedure available under CrPC... the present writ petition under reply filed by the petitioner deserves to be dismissed as misconceived"."That the investigating agencies are following due mandate of law as enshrined in the Code of Criminal Procedure as well as directions passed by this hon'ble court in a catena of judgments," it added.Referring to various judgements, the state government said that any interference in the course of an investigation is impermissible and moreover, the Congress leader was not entitled to seek the intervention of the apex court during the probe.
Referring to the contents of one of the FIRs, the Uttar Pradesh government said Khera sarcastically made the remarks about the father of the prime minister "as a deliberate attempt to ridicule him for which the petitioner ought to be punished accordingly". Khera, before getting interim bail from the top court, was arrested by Assam Police here. And his interim protection has been extended twice by the top court which will now hear it on March 17. Earlier, on February 27, the court had extended the protection to the Congress spokesperson till Friday. Khera was arrested from the Delhi airport after he was de-boarded from a plane that was supposed to take him to Raipur in connection with his alleged remarks against Modi made at a press conference in Mumbai on February 17.