A city court today refused to grant bail to two AAP MLAs, Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal in the case of assault on Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, observing that the circumstances prima facie point to a "premeditated criminal conspiracy".
Denying relief to the legislators, Metropolitan Magistrate Shefali Barnala Tondon also observed that the matter cannot be treated in "a casual and routine manner", considering they were "history-sheeters".
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The magistrate, who pronounced the order in a packed court room amidst tight security, also dismissed the plea of the police seeking custodial interrogation of the accused, who are now in judicial custody, saying there was no new ground necessitating their remand which has already been denied by the court once.
The court said the allegations in the matter were "very serious", as it was alleged that the Chief Secretary (CS) was called for a meeting at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's residence at an odd hour, despite his reluctance.
Noting the allegations levelled against the two MLAs, the court said in its order that during the meeting which the CS attended in the course of his official duty, he was "assaulted, abused, manhandled and criminally intimidated" by the accused persons, who are sitting MLAs.
"The circumstances if looked overall, prima facie point towards premeditated criminal conspiracy. Though bail is the rule and jail is an exception, however the applications of present applicants cannot be considered in a routine and casual manner, they being history-sheeters,” the magistrate said.
The court said the investigation was at an initial and premature stage and there was a possibility that the accused, if enlarged on bail, could influence witnesses.
"The submission of prosecution that if enlarged on bail, the accused persons
shall influence witnesses vital to the prosecution case and shall hamper the investigation, being in power, cannot be overlooked and judicial discretion must ensure public order.
“With this background, the bail applications of both accused persons, namely Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal, are hereby dismissed," it said.
While dealing with the application of the police for custodial interrogation, the court said their statements "can be recorded during investigation otherwise also, than in police remand. Further, no such other new grounds have been stated in the present application which necessitate the PC (police custody) remand of accused persons, which has already been declined by the court."
The court said the only new fact which has emerged as per the prosecution was that Kejriwal's adviser V K Jain has stated in his statement recorded under section 164 CrPC that he had received the complainant at the CM’s residence at midnight and witnessed the incident of assault. Therefore, he has to be confronted with accused persons with respect to the timings and identifying remaining MLAs, it said.
The court, in its detailed order, also observed that the "version of the complainant (CS) is corroborated by statement of VK Jain recorded on oath under section 164 CrPC and the MLC of the complainant. Hence, at this stage it cannot be looked with suspicion without any cogent reason or evidence to the contrary."
It also took into consideration the list of 11 MLAs submitted by the defence counsel and the seven names given by Jain and said the remaining legislators can be identified by showing their photographs to the CS as they were "sitting MLAS and not unknown people”. Khan and Jarwal were yesterday sent to 14-day judicial custody by the court which termed the case as "highly sensitive".
They were arrested in connection with the alleged assault on the bureaucrat during a meeting at Kejriwal's residence on the night of February 19. While Jarwal, an MLA from Deoli, was arrested on Tuesday night, Khan, an MLA from Okhla, was taken into custody the next day.
While seeking custodial interrogation of the accused, Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava had said there were numerous criminal cases pending against both the MLAs since 1995. “He (Khan) had started with slapping a junior engineer and today he has assaulted a chief secretary,” he said.
Advocate B S Joon, who had appeared for the MLAs, had opposed the police's plea for custody and said the police was relying on old arguments.