The Gujarat High Court on Monday extended interim relief granted to Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena till the final disposal of his plea seeking proceedings against him in a case of assault on social activist Medha Patkar be kept in abeyance till the time he holds the office of L-G.
The court of Justice Samir Dave stayed a criminal trial against Saxena till the final disposal of his plea and also joined the Centre as a party to the litigation. The matter was kept for further hearing on August 29.
The court of metropolitan magistrate PC Goswami had, on May 8, refused to stay the trial against Saxena in a case in which he and three others are accused of assaulting Patkar during a peace meeting organised at Gandhi Ashram on April 10, 2002.
During the hearing on Monday, Patkar opposed Saxena’s plea challenging the trial court’s order.
Her lawyer Anand Yagnik submitted that while the public prosecutor endorsed Saxena’s plea, the government was required to file a detailed affidavit as the matter is serious involving the interpretation of the Constitution.
Saxena’s lawyer Jal Unwala submitted before the court that in its order rejecting Saxena’s plea for abeyance of trial, the metropolitan court did not touch upon the issue of whether the L-G can be granted immunity under Article 361 of the Constitution.
In his plea, Saxena contended that the trial court made an erroneous observation that if protection is granted to him, then examination of witnesses will have to be conducted afresh, which would cause delay in trial.
The observation of the metropolitan court is erroneous in view of the fact that even if the trial is concluded, the court would not be in the position to send him in custody in view of the protection under Article 361 of the Constitution of India, he said.
As per the case details, a group of people had allegedly attacked Patkar when she was part of a peace meet organised after the 2002 Gujarat riots.
A case was registered on her complaint at Sabarmati police station under sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 321 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of trust), and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
The trial in the case is underway in a metropolitan court here.
Cross examination of other accused Ellisbridge MLA Amit Shah, Vejalpur MLA Amit Thaker and Congress leader Rohit Patel has been completed. When Saxena’s turn came, his lawyer had moved an application seeking abeyance of trial against him on grounds of immunity under Article 361 of the Constitution.