Former Khatauli BJP-MLA Vikram Saini gets a jolt from HC, dismisses petition challenging the conviction
The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by former BJP MLA Vikram Saini, who was disqualified after his conviction in a criminal case, challenging his conviction. Saini had sought suspension of his conviction in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots case. Dismissing Saini's plea, Justice Samit Gopal said, "Disqualification resulting from criminal activities relates to various aspects of national interest, civic interest, communal harmony, and good governance.
The mere plea of the petitioner that the conviction would disqualify him (for members of the Legislative Assembly) under the 1951 Act is not a ground to suspend the conviction." The court said, “The power to suspend conviction should be exercised only in the rarest of rare cases. Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 provides for disqualification on conviction of certain offenses. Offenses of the Indian Penal Code that come under the ambit of this law can erode the values of a healthy democracy, and harm economic stability, and national security.
The high court had on November 18 suspended Saini's sentence in the case and granted him bail. The court had fixed November 22 as the next date of the hearing. The court had on Tuesday reserved its verdict after hearing the arguments of Saini's counsel and the public prosecutor. Saini's counsel had argued that his client was falsely implicated in the case for political reasons as the state was in power when the Muzaffarnagar riots took place in 2013. Moreover, no one was injured in the incident and there is no official witness present. He also argued that because of his conviction, Saini has been disqualified for the post of MLA and his assembly seat, Khatauli, has fallen vacant. As per the Representation of the People Act, he cannot contest elections for six years. Therefore, in the interest of justice, his conviction should be suspended.
Rejecting all the arguments of Saini's counsel, the court said, “Whatever the grounds raised here, do not appeal to the court in any way. A full hearing of the case took place here after which the petitioner was convicted. The trial court has found the evidence credible." The by-election is to be held on December 5 on the Khatauli assembly seat. It may be noted that the Muzaffarnagar MP/MLA court had on October 11 sentenced Saini and 10 others to two years imprisonment in the Muzaffarnagar riots case.