Published on: 23 November 2022 at 21:32 IST
The Allahabad High Court has reserved its order on an application filed by disqualified BJP MLA Vikram Saini in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riot case.
On 18 November, the High Court suspended the jail term awarded to Saini by the trial court for his role in the riot and granted him bail. Justice Samit Gopal reserved the judgment after hearing Saini’s counsel and the state government’s counsel.
During the court proceedings, senior advocate I.K. Chaturvedi, assisted by Aditya Upadhyay, argued for Saini that he (Saini) was implicated in the present case due to political vendetta, as a rival party-led government was in power at the time of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.
“Besides, it is a case of no injury and no public witness is available,” they added.
It was also argued on behalf of the appellant’s counsel that as a result of the conviction, Saini has been disqualified as an MLA and his assembly constituency – Khatauli – has become vacant.
Furthermore, as per Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, he cannot contest elections for a period of next six years if he has been convicted by a court. Therefore, in view of this, his conviction may be suspended in the interest of justice, the lawyers further submitted.
On the other hand, the learned counsel appearing for the State Government opposed the prayer for suspension of conviction. The by-election for Khatauli assembly constituency is to be held on December 5. The Special Judge, MP/MLA Court, Muzaffarnagar had on October 11 sentenced Saini, the elected MLA from Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar, and 10 others to two years imprisonment.
The court acquitted all the accused of the charge of attempt to murder.
According to constitutional experts, Saini has every right to approach the High Court against the conviction by the MP/MLA court, but this will not save him from losing his current membership. However, if he gets a stay from the High Court against his conviction, he will be able to contest elections in future.
Earlier, the Supreme Court, in its 2013 judgement, in a case filed by Lily Thomas and others, had said that any MP, MLA or MLC convicted of an offense and sentenced to a minimum of two years imprisonment. If so, he shall lose his membership. Assembly with immediate effect, without giving three months time for appeal, as was the case earlier.