New Delhi: More than a month after being slapped with the stringent National Security Act for his reported hate speeches, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Varun Gandhi got a major reprieve with the Supreme Court Thursday ordering the Uttar Pradesh government to immediately quash the detention order.
Happy with the apex court order, which comes a week after a court panel said invoking the NSA on him was too harsh, Varun Gandhi said: “With regard to the imposition of the NSA, there was never any doubt about the outcome of a fair hearing. What there was doubt about was the possibility of obtaining a fair hearing with both the state and central governments ranged against me.”
“I am deeply grateful to the Advisory Board, which through its impartial stand has reiterated the strength of India’s institutions. My faith has been doubly restored today by the decision of the Supreme Court which has so firmly rejected a crude and blatant attempt to abuse the authority of the state,” Varun Gandhi said in a statement here.
A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, taking a final call on the legality of the imposition of the security law on Varun Gandhi, ordered its nixing without any delay.
The Mayawati government had slapped NSA provisions on Varun Gandhi on March 29, a day after he was imprisoned on charges of delivering poll speeches vilifying Muslims.
“Finally, I owe a debt of gratitude to my mother, my family, my party and millions of Indians who have stood by me through this ordeal,” added Varun Gandhi.
Giving its ruling on a bunch of lawsuits, related to the imposition of the law, the apex court bench which also included Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Deepak Verma, pronounced its one-word-ruling – “Quashed”.
The bench ordered the state government to scrap the order observing that the state government had “no valid ground” to oppose the state advisory board’s order for revocation of the security law against the BJP leader.
Facing the prospect of outright dismissal of its lawsuit challenging the state advisory board’s order, the Uttar Pradesh government’s advocate general Jyotendra Mishra expressed the state’s willingness to withdraw the lawsuit.
Ironically, senior counsel and former Solicitor General Harish Salve, who had been specifically hired by the state government and who had delayed Varun Gandhi’s release by a few days through his legal arguments, chose not to oppose Varun’s plea seeking revocation of the NSA.
After the state advisory board, set up by the Allahabad High Court, May 8 ordered scrapping of the security law against Varun Gandhi, the state government promptly announced its decision to challenge the court panel order.
The advisory panel, a judicial forum under the Allahabad High Court, had said the step to impose the act against Gandhi was too harsh.
This led to Varun Gandhi approaching the apex court Monday through a caveat pleading that he would also like to be heard on the matter.
The following day Tuesday the Uttar Pradesh government moved the apex court challenging the court panel order and then Varun Gandhi filed another lawsuit on Wednesday.
The apex court later on April 16 had released him on parole for two weeks. The parole was later extended by two weeks on May 1.
The BJP welcomed the Supreme Court decision. “The party has always maintained that the NSA slapped on Varun Gandhi was untenable under the scrutiny of law,” BJP spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh told IANS, adding that it was “misuse of power” by both the central and state government. “They were playing vote bank politics,” he said.
In his petition to the apex court, the BJP candidate from the Pilibhit constituency in Uttar Pradesh demanded a compensation of Rs.1 million for his detention in Etah jail for over a fortnight.
Varun Gandhi’s aunt Ambika Shukla welcomed the apex court decision. “The Supreme Court has found the application (of the Uttar Pradesh government) untenable and dismissed the NSA orders forthwith. This should have been done on the advice of the advisory board by the state government. However, better late than never. We welcome the order.”