Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker NP Prajapati on November 2 disqualified a BJP legislator, Prahlad Lodhi, from the House after a special court in Bhopal gave its verdict on October 31, 2019, sentencing the MLA in a case of rioting, assault on government officials and breach of peace.
The court found Lodhi guilty for attacking a tehsildar in Raipura town, who had seized a sand-laden tractor-trolley, and sentenced him to two years' rigorous imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 2,000.
A week later, the Madhya Pradesh government has issued orders for withdrawal of at least 30 criminal cases against its legislators and ministers since January this year — including Law Minister PC Sharma, Finance Minister Tarun Bhanot and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Pradhuman Singh Tomar, as also against its allies, Bahujan Samaj Party and some Independents MLAs.
Sources say the cases in which Lodhi was sentenced -- ‘rioting’ and disobedience of an order given by a government official -- have been withdrawn. Serious criminal cases, like murder, attempted murder or sexual assault, are not on the reprieve list, said officials, adding that the courts would have the final say.
In a report published in Times of India, the Principal Secretary, Home, SN Mishra, confirmed the news, saying: “It is an ongoing process and will continue.” The number of cases withdrawn so far runs into hundreds, said another senior official.
In 230-seated Assembly, the state has 94 members (41%) -- including 15 ministers – who have been facing criminal charges. Of those, 47 members have been facing serious criminal charges, according to State Election Commission data. Of the 94 MLAs, 56 are from the Congress, 34 from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and two from BSP.
MLAs with Criminal Cases
||Number of MLAs
Source - Sate ECI website. Affidavit filed by candidates to EC.
Soon after forming the government in December last year, the Congress had announced that it would drop “politically motivated cases” filed against farmers, dalit leaders and political leaders during 15 years of BJP rule.
“The BJP, during its 15-year regime, imposed several politically motivated cases against innocent people, including Congress workers. All such cases will be withdrawn at the earliest possible,” Congress state media in-charge Shobha Oza had said on December 31, 2018, after BSP chief Mayawati threatened to reconsider support to the Congress government unless cases filed by the erstwhile BJP government to “frame her party workers” in the Bharat Bandh on April 2 this year were withdrawn.
Early this year, the government constituted a state-level committee under state home minister Bala Bachchan and law minister PC Sharma for withdrawal of “politically motivated cases”. District-level scrutiny panels were set up, with the district magistrate as chairperson and the SP and district public prosecution officer as members.
According to a report published in Times of India on November 7, till September this yearthe government had issued orders to withdraw 24 cases against its leaders — including law minister Sharma, himself, sources said. The other Congress leaders who are getting a reprieve are finance minister Tarun Bhanot, food and civil supplies minister Pradhuman Singh Tomar and Sewda MLA Ghanshyam Singh. Independent MLA Surendra Singh, who supports the Congress government, also got a breather. Orders have been issued to withdraw the lone case against former chief minister Digvijaya Singh.
The report claimed that by September 10, 2019, the process to withdraw criminal cases against BSP MLAs Sanjeev Singh and Ram Bai — who have given outside support to the government — and Congress legislators Jaipal Singh, Raghuraj Singh Kansana and Kunal Choudhary will be completed. Kansana faces an attempt to murder case, which has not been touched. “As of November 1, administrative approval has been given for withdrawing 175 cases. These were politically motivated cases that were withdrawn after strict assessment,” said an official, requesting not to be named.
“Applications for withdrawal of cases are sent by district-level committees to director of prosecution. After being vetted, they are sent to the law department and finally come to the government. The recommendation for withdrawal of case is then sent to the district court concerned,” said Principal Home Secretary Mishra.
“However, this is not the end of it. Even if the government gives its nod at every level, the courts can decline to withdraw the case,” an official pointed out.
Congress spokesman and Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s media convener, Narendra Saluja, said, “Politically motivated cases registered against farmers and Congress leaders during the BJP regime are being taken back. A committee of ministers was constituted for this.”