New Delhi, Feb 5: Arvind Kejriwal and other leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have confessed in court to violating Sec 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code during their protest here in Aug 2012.
Kejriwal who was at that time part of India Against Corruption (IAC) was arrested for staging a sit-in along with fellow activists outside the residences of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her BJP counterpart Nitin Gadkari on Aug 26.
The IAC members slammed the government for not taking action againt the accused in the Coalgate scam despite the Comptroller and Auditor General submitting a report that there was a total loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crores to the exchequer due to hundreds of coal blocks being allocated to private firms at throwaway prices.
Kejriwal and his associates today asserted that gheraoing the PM, Sonia and Gadkari on this ground was the right thing to do. Prashant Bhushan, senior lawyer and one of the co-founders of Aam Aadmi Party, told the court that "The imposition of Section 144 is a violation of fundamental rights to protest peacefully in a democracy."
The judge stressed that if Bhushan believes in the system, he can argue the case. "I can assure you I can complete the trial within six months if you co-operate with the court," the judge added.
Earlier, the AAP leaders had made it clear that they will not seek bail. Pointing out that they did not indulge in any violence on Aug 26, Kejriwal said: "We were moving peacefully when suddenly the police started to baton charge us. They used tear gas, water cannons etc."
According to Bhushan, the Delhi Police wrongly accused the IAC members of "inciting violence" on that day.
The judge will shortly decide whether Kejriwal and the other protesters should be given bail. Given Kejriwal's insistence on not applying for the same, it remains to be seen if he will be forced to spend some days behind bars.