Apex court seeks justification for detaining Varun


New Delhi : The Supreme Court Thursday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to justify young Bharatiya Janata Party leader Varun Gandhi’s detention under the National Security Act (NSA) during the election time.

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A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam issued the notice on Varun Gandhi’s lawsuit challenging the legality of invoking the stringent security law to detain him. Varun Gandhi has also sought his release to enable him contest and campaign for the Lok Sabha election from Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit.

The bench issued the notice indicating that releasing Varun Gandhi on bail a few days before the last date of filing nominations from the Pilibhit parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh April 16 should not be a problem.

“The nomination should not be a problem,” observed the chief justice while hearing his lawyer and former additional solicitor general Mukul Rohtagi’s plea to quash the invocation of the preventive detention act, NSA, against his client.

Varun Gandhi, who was put in jail March 28 for his alleged hate speeches, had approached the apex court Wednesday challenging his detention without trial.

NSA was slapped against Varun Gandhi for “inciting violence” prior to his arrest in Pilibhit. He was moved to Uttar Pradesh’s Etah jail early Wednesday from Pilibhit for security reasons.

In his plea, Rohtagi cited several alleged illegalities and irregularities resorted to by the Uttar Pradesh government in invoking NSA against Varun Gandhi.

Rohtagi contended that the Pilibhit district magistrate, who passed the order to detain Varun Gandhi without trial under the NSA is not empowered to invoke the security law independently without due authorisation by the state government.

The NSA stipulates that the state government would first examine if there is a breach of peace or its apprehension in near future in a locality owing to any person. After finding a positive answer to it, the government can delegate its power to the district magistrate to invoke NSA against the accused.

Rohtagi said it was not clear if the government followed this due process of law for invoking NSA against his client.

The law also stipulates fixing a time period for which a person is to be held under NSA, Rohtagi said, adding that the magistrate’s order is silent about how long the government intends to detain Varun Gandhi without trial.

Accusing the state government of not supplying various documents related to the reasons of invoking NSA against his client, Rohtagi asserted that on this sole ground alone the invocation of the act is likely to be quashed.

Rohtagi said Varun Gandhi could not be held responsible for an event which occurred when he was in custody.

Quoting intelligence reports and the incident about the arrest of a sharp-shooter, ordered by underworld Chhota Shakeel to kill Varun Gandhi, Rohtagi said that there was a threat to the life of his client and pleaded for his immediate release.