In a relief to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Supreme Court on Tuesday granted him exemption from personal appearance before a magisterial court at Amethi in Uttar Pradesh in a case of alleged inflammatory speech made by him in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
“The attendance of the petitioner is dispensed away with till further order,” a Bench comprising Justices J. Chelameswar and A.M. Sapre said.
Notice to U.P. govt.
The Bench also issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on Mr. Kejriwal’s appeal against the Allahabad High Court order asking him to first appear before the trial court and then seek personal exemption on subsequent date of hearing.
A trial court at Amethi had recently issued a bailable warrant against Mr. Kejriwal after refusing to grant him personal exemption from appearance in the case.
He is entitled to it: lawyer
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener, said Mr. Kejriwal should have been granted exemption from personal appearance as in such cases, an accused can be allowed to be represented through his lawyer.
Referring to various provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, he said the magistrate could dispense with the presence of the accused.
The case was filed against the AAP convener under Section 125 of the Representation of People’s Act for allegedly making inflammatory speech during the Lok Sabha polls on May 2, 2014.
The section deals with the offence of promoting enmity between classes in connection with election on the grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language and entails imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or fine, or both.
‘No offence made out’
In his petition before the apex court, Mr. Kejriwal said that the alleged speech came under the purview of right to expression and hence, no offence was made out.
He also sought a direction to quash the order of the court of judicial magistrate of Amethi, which dismissed his petition for exemption of his personal attendance.
The case was lodged against the Mr. Kejriwal at Musafirkhana police station of Amethi in May last year during the parliamentary election in connection with his speech at Aurangabad village.
Later, a bailable warrant was issued against Mr. Kejriwal on July 20 this year, directing him to be present before the judicial magistrate. He then approached the High Court which turned down his plea.