Court panel calls for revocation of NSA against Varun Gandhi


Lucknow: The special advisory board of the Allahabad High Court Friday recommended withdrawal of the stringent National Security Act (NSA) invoked against BJP’s Varun Gandhi for his inflammatory communal utterances in Pilibhit in March. The Uttar Pradesh government is to move the Supreme Court against the advice.

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While the details of the recommendation were stated to be “highly confidential”, informed sources claimed that the high court panel has opined that the action was disproportionate to the nature of the crime committed by Varun Gandhi.

Headed by Justice Pradeek Kant, senior judge of the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court, the three-member panel comprising two retired high court judges Justice S.N. Sahai and Justice P.K. Sareen, was understood to have stated in no uncertain terms that the inflammatory speeches made by Varun Gandhi were not enough to attract the deterrent provisions of the NSA.

The recommendation was communicated earlier in the day to the state government, which, however, decided in the evening to move the apex court.

“After detailed deliberations, the state government has decided to appeal against the advisory board’s recommendation before the Supreme Court,” a senior government spokesman told mediapersons here.

Though it is a convention to abide by the recommendation of the advisory board, top government officials are of the view that technically that could not be a binding.

“Since the act clearly provides for a necessary confirmation by the high court’s advisory board, its recommendation cannot be ignored by the state government,” claimed former advocate general Virendra Bhatia, who was also Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha member.

Bhatia also felt “no appeal lies against the advisory board’s opinion”.

The stringent law was slapped on the BJP’s new found Hindutva mascot Varun Gandhi, after his anti-Muslim remarks during election speeches in Pilibhit from where he has joined the the Lok Sabha poll fray.

Varun Gandhi was handpicked by the BJP to contest the Lok Sabha election from Pilibhit, his mother Maneka Gandhi’s political bastion for five terms. Maneka left the seat for her son, and moved to the neighbouring Aonla.

However, his rabid anti-Muslim utterances drew the attention of the state government that took serious view of his speeches in Dalchand locality of Pilibhit town on March 7 and at Barkhera village on March 8.

Varun Gandhi allegedly compounded the situation by disturbing public order through his inflammatory speeches outside the local court on March 28 and also allowing his supporters to indulge in acts of aggression and violence while he was being taken from the court to Pilibhit prison. The report sent by the Pilibhit district magistrate accused Varun Gandhi’s supporters of “attacking and beating up policemen, and thereby creating an atmosphere of terror in the vicinity.”

Gandhi later moved the Supreme Court, which felt that the government had been too harsh and that slapping NSA was disproportionate compared to his crime.