A local court in Ahmedabad has declined the plea of Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena seeking a stay on a criminal trial till he holds office, in a two-decade-old case of assault on social and environment activist Medha Patkar.
Mr. Saxena and three others have been accused of assaulting the activist at Sabarmati Ashram in 2002.
On Monday, a magisterial court of P.N. Goswami rejected Mr. Saxena’s plea filed in March this year.
In his plea, Mr. Saxena had sought a stay on the trial against him till the time he occupies the office of L-G of Delhi, which is a constitutional office.
Contending that the trial should be stayed, his plea cited Article 361 (2) of the Constitution that grants immunity to the President, Governor or rajpramukh of a State, by permitting them to not be answerable to any court for the exercise and performance of those powers or duties, and that no criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or the Governor of a State in any court during their term in office.
He even went one step further to argue that the Office of the L-G of National Capital Territory (NCT) Delhi is even higher than the Office of any Governor and lower than only the President of India, since the President himself/herself selects and appoints the L-G, while the Governor is appointed by the President after being selected by the Central government.
However, the magisterial court did not accept the contention advanced by the L-G in the plea. The court’s detailed order is yet to be made public.
The case dates back to April 2002 when the alleged assault took place at the Sabarmati Ashram where a meeting was held by social groups and activists to appeal for peace in midst of the communal riots in the State.
Besides Mr. Saxena, the other accused in the case are BJP leaders Amit Shah and Amit Thaler, both legislators of Ellis Bridge and Vejalpur seats respectively, and Congress leader Rohit Patel.
They were opposed to Mr. Patkar’s presence at the meeting because of her stand against Narmada project. The accused are facing charges of rioting, assault, and unlawful assembly.