Meanwhile, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has said that he "will accept whatever decision is taken by the High Court". Yadav's Samajwadi Party had promised in its election manifesto for 2012 assembly election that if voted to power, it will withdraw cases against innocent Muslim youths implicated in false terror charges. The SP got overwhelming support of Muslims and the party came to power with absolute majority.
The case history
In April this year, the government had moved an application to withdraw cases in a Barabanki court which is hearing cases of Tariq Qasmi and Khalid Mujahid accused in 2007 serial blasts cases. The Barabanki court had rejected the application. The government had decided to file an appeal and simultaneously, withdrawal application was also moved in a local court of Gorakhpur. Government's decision to withdraw cases was based on Nimesh Commission report which found discrepancies in arrests of Tariq Qasmi and Khalid Mujahid.
Today's high court order was passed by Justices Rajeev Sharma and Mahendra Dayal of the Lucknow bench on a PIL filed by local lawyer Ranjana Agnihotri and five others.
While referring the matter to a larger bench, the court gave six weeks time to the respondents, including the central and the state governments, for filing their reply and four weeks for rejoinder thereafter. The order to refer the case to a larger bench was passed because earlier another division bench of the high court had dismissed a similar petition.
The petitioners had sought direction for quashing the order issued by the state for withdrawing cases against persons accused of indulging in terror activities and serial blasts.
The court directed that the order for withdrawing the cases against the alleged terror accused shall be kept in abeyance.
Appearing on behalf of the UP government, Additional Advocate General Bulbul Godiyal submitted that the PIL was not maintainable as earlier a similar petition was dismissed by the Allahabad bench.
She submitted that the Centre's permission was not required for withdrawing the cases. On behalf of the petitioner's counsel, H S Jain opposed the submission of the state government and said sanction from the central government was certainly required for withdrawing the cases.
As directed by the bench on the earlier date, the entire record of alleged terror accused was not produced by the state government and only a list of their names was submitted with the affidavit.
The court had on Wednesday last directed the state to file an affidavit of alleged terrorist whose cases were recently withdrawn and whether the consent of the central government has been taken or not for the same.
The petitioners have sought direction from the court for quashing the order issued by the state for withdrawing cases against persons accused of alleged terrorist activities and serial blasts after summoning the original order from the opposite parties.
The PIL also stated that in all terror cases, the government granted sanction for prosecution on the basis of material collected by the investigating agencies. Hence, the government cannot recall, review or nullify the sanction orders by proceeding to withdraw these cases.
The petitioners have also challenged the validity of section 321 of the CrPC (provision for withdrawing the cases).
With PTI inputs