20 March 2023 11:47 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday clubbed the FIRs registered against Congress Spokesperson Pawan Khera at Varanasi and Assam over the comment made by him against the Prime Minister and transferred them to Police Station, Hazratganj, Lucknow. The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice JB Pardiwala granted liberty to Khera to apply for regular bail before...
The Supreme Court on Monday clubbed the FIRs registered against Congress Spokesperson Pawan Khera at Varanasi and Assam over the comment made by him against the Prime Minister and transferred them to Police Station, Hazratganj, Lucknow. The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice JB Pardiwala granted liberty to Khera to apply for regular bail before the jurisdictional court in the matter.
Khera was arrested by Assam police from Delhi airport over his comment about Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 23rd February 2023. On the same day, the Apex Court granted Khera with an interim relief and stated that he should be released on interim bail on production before the jurisdictional Magistrate at Delhi. The interim bail was later extended from 28th February 2023 to 3rd March 2023, and then till 17th March 2023.
Today, the court extended its ad interim order till 10th April 2023.
At the outset, due to the absence of Dr AM Singhvi, who was appearing for Khera, the counsel for petitioner requested for the matter to be taken on next Monday. However, the Solicitor General of India, appearing for the States of Assam and UP suggested that the FIRs could be clubbed
CJI DY Chandrachud said–
"The first FIR is in Lucknow. The practice is to club it to the place where first FIR was registered...We can say that the arrest which was made by Assam Police was in Assam. If we transfer that to UP, all jurisdiction will lie with UP police. In connection with that, we'll extend our order and allow him to apply for regular bail."
The counsel for petitioner again pleaded for the matter to be heard on Monday stating that Dr Singhvi wished to argue for the case to be transferred to Delhi in the interest of fair trial as the alleged offence was committed in Delhi. However, the bench was not inclined to transfer the petition to Delhi.
During the course of hearing, SG Mehta also submitted that no apology or remorse had been tendered by Khera on his comments against PM Modi despite his counsel Dr Singhvi tendering the apology in court. He argued–
"What weighed your lordships was that petitioner tendered an apology. But he never gave an apology or even showed any remorse."
To this, CJI DY Chandrachud remarked that the court would go by the apology which was given by the counsel.
The court directed that the FIRs registered at Varanasi and at Assam shall stand transferred to PS Hazratganj. It added that the ad interim order passed by the court shall stand extended till 10 April 2023 and that the petitioner would be at liberty to apply for regular bail at jurisdictional court.
SG Mehta, highlighting the issue concerning the apology said–
"It's not a simple statement which is not in good taste. It's a wider issue. It was not an innocuous statement. We want to see who was behind this. How can someone stoop to that level of bringing in someone's parents like that?...After tendering the apology, despite the pleadings he made, he said that it was made in fair speech. The official handle of party petitioner is a part of has kept on tweeting about the same thing. This is political discourse and they must control to stop it."
Case Title: Pawan Khera v. State of Assam And Ors. WP(Crl) No. 74/2023
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