Gujarat HC grants interim stay on further proceedings against Delhi LG Saxena in assault case

The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday granted interim stay on further proceedings against Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG) VK Saxena in a case of alleged assault on social activist Medha Patkar in 2002, pending before a trial court.

Justice MK Thakker granted interim relief to Saxena in terms of stay on further proceedings against him in the trial court till pendency and final disposal of his plea, challenging a metropolitan court’s order rejecting his application to keep the trial against him in abeyance till he holds the office of Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

The court also issued notices to the state government and complainant Patkar, and kept the matter for further hearing on June 19.

On May 8, metropolitan magistrate P C Goswami refused to stay the trial against Saxena, as requested by him in the case dating back to April 10, 2002, when he and three other accused allegedly assaulted Patkar during a peace meeting organised at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad.

Saxena’s lawyer told the HC that the metropolitan court made an erroneous observation that if protection is granted to him, the examination of witnesses will have to be conducted afresh, and that would cause delay in the trial.

The metropolitan court’s observation is erroneous in view of the fact that even if the trial is concluded, the court would not be in a position to send him in custody in view of the protection under Article 361 of the Constitution (related to legal protection to President and Governors from criminal proceedings), the lawyer said.

He also pointed out that the trial was delayed on 94 occasions due to adjournment applications moved by the complainant.

As per the case detail, a group of people allegedly attacked Patkar when she was part of a peace meet organised after the 2002 Gujarat riots. After the April 10, 2002 incident, a case was lodged by her at the city’s Sabarmati police station. The trial of the case is going on in a metropolitan court here.

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Cross examination of three other accused — Ellisbridge MLA Amit Shah, Vejalpur MLA Amit Thaker (both of BJP) and Congress leader Rohit Patel — was completed. When Saxena’s term came, his lawyer moved an application seeking abeyance of trial against him on grounds of immunity under Article 361 of the Constitution.

The case against the accused was registered under Indian Penal Code Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 321 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of trust) and 506 (criminal intimidation).

The matter will be taken up for hearing on June 19.

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