The Uttar Pradesh government is planning to withdraw two cases against its deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya. The cases are currently pending before a special trial court in Allahabad which was constituted after the Supreme Court Judgement to settle cases against lawmakers. In one case, Maurya is accused of forming a frivolous Durga Puja Committee and collecting money from common people whereas the second pertains to a violation of the model code of conduct in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In a letter issued by Under Secretary Arun Kumar Rai to Kaushambi District Magistrate, the government has asked to initiate the withdrawal process by moving an application in the court.
The latest case of Keshav Prasad Maurya appears to be a part of an increasingly popular trend in Uttar Pradesh where the BJP-led state government has launched on a spree to withdraw cases against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders after the saffron party came to power. The cases are primarily dismissed under the Uttar Pradesh Criminal Law (Composition of Offences and Abatement of Trials) (Amendment) Act, 2017, which was introduced to quash cases of "non-serious" nature but instead has been used to withdraw cases of rape, abduction, hate speech and inciting riots.
Let’s take a look at some of these cases:
Case no. 1
In April this year, the Yogi Adityanath-led government moved an application in a Shahjahanpur Court to withdraw a criminal case against former Union minister and BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand in which he was accused of abducting and raping a girl who stayed for years in his ashram. In her complaint, the victim had alleged that the swami had not only raped her but also threatened her to kill. Interestingly, the application moved by the administration did not cite any reason for withdrawing the case.
Case no 2
In another instance, the state government directed the district administrations of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli to withdraw 131 cases related to the infamous Muzaffarnagar riot cases pertaining to BJP MPs including Sanjeev Balyan, Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana. The leaders of the saffron party were accused of arson, hate speech and inciting riots. The move was vehemently opposed by the district magistrates who said the cases cannot be withdrawn. At least 67 persons were reported to be killed and thousands were displaced after BJP leaders allegedly made hate speeches at a Mahapanchayat in 2013
Case No. 3
The most important application moved by the Yogi Adityanath government was the one which sought to withdraw the charges against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in a 1995 case. The application was moved to free Adityanath from the charges of violating prohibitory orders and holding a public meeting at his home. The case has been pending in a Gorakhpur court which also issued no-bailable warrants against non-appearance.
The blatant use of power was also seen last year when the Uttar Pradesh government told the Allahabad Court that Adityanath cannot be prosecuted in a 2007 case for delivering a hate speech which had triggered communal riots in Gorakhpur. A mandatory sanction was required to file the charge sheet against him under section 153 A of Indian Penal Code.