The Allahabad High Court has ruled that if Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal surrenders before a court in Amethi district within four weeks, no coercive action shall be taken against him till then in a criminal case pending in the lower court.
Justice A N Mittal of the Lucknow bench gave the order on a petition of Kejriwal, challenging an August 12 order of the lower court.
The hearing on the petition took place yesterday before the High Court, which reserved its order.
Kejriwal had sought a direction to quash the order of the court of judicial magistrate, Amethi, which dismissed his petition for exemption of his personal attendance.
"Considering the request of learned counsel for the petitioner, it is provided that if the petitioner, Arvind Kejriwal, surrenders before the (lower) court within four weeks from today and moves an application for bail, the same shall be considered and disposed of expeditiously in accordance with law...Till then, no coercive action shall be taken against the petitioner," the High Court said.
The order further said, "I do not find any error of law or perversity in the order dated August 12, by which the application for exemption has been rejected."
As for the prayer of petitioner to stay the entire criminal proceedings of this case, the court did not find any sufficient ground to stay the criminal proceedings and termed the prayer as misconceived.
Earlier, on August 3, the High Court had stayed for four weeks a bailable warrant issued against Kejriwal by the court in Amethi in connection with his alleged inflammatory speech in the district during the Lok Sabha election last year.
The court had permitted Kejriwal's counsel to move a fresh application for exemption of his appearance before the magistrate's court and had directed the lower court concerned to dispose it of expeditiously.
Justice Mahendra Dayal had passed the order on a petition moved by Kejriwal, who had sought directions for quashing the proceedings of the case, including the charge sheet and bailable warrant issued against him.
Mahmood Alam, the counsel for the petitioner, had submitted that the alleged speech came under the purview of the 'right to expression'. Hence, no offence was made out.
State government counsel Rishad Murtaza had opposed the argument, saying that there were certain limits to the 'right to expression' and hence a case was made out.
He had contended that without personal appearance of the accused, the application for exemption of personal appearance was not maintainable.
According to the state government advocate, a case was lodged against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader at the Musafirkhana police station of Amethi in May last year during the parliamentary election under Section 125 of the Representation of People's Act in connection with his speech at Aurangabad village.
The section deals with the offence of promoting enmity between classes in connection with election on grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language and entails imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or fine, or both.
A bailable warrant was issued against Kejriwal on July 20 this year, directing him to be present before the judicial magistrate.