Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh has moved the Supreme Court seeking quashing of multiple FIRs lodged against him in various districts of Uttar Pradesh after his press conference in August, last year saying they have been maliciously instituted to unleash political vendetta. In a separate petition, Singh has also challenged the Allahabad High Court order of January 21, by which it had refused to quash the FIR lodged in Lucknow after the August 12, 2020, press conference.
Singh said he had conducted a press conference at Lucknow of Uttar Pradesh on August 12, last year wherein he had alleged that the state government was favouring one particular caste over the others. In the said press conference, the petitioner had merely raised certain social issues, namely neglect and apathy of the government towards a certain class of society, he said in his writ petition filed through advocate Sumeer Sodhi. Both the petitions will be taken up for hearing by a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan on February 2. Senior advocate Vivek Tankha is likely to appear for Singh in the matter.
The AAP leader said after the press conference, multiple FIRs were registered against him at the instance of the BJP’s members in various police stations in different districts of Uttar Pradesh. Singh said the writ petition has been filed by him for direction to quash the FIRs registered against him, as these FIRs are manifestly attended with malafides and have been maliciously instituted to unleash political vendetta against the petitioner and to harass him. The said FIRs have been filed against the petitioner out of the malice and sheer political vendetta with intent to coerce, harass and intimidate the petitioner as a part of larger ploy to muzzle the opposition leaders, from speaking up against the government of Uttar Pradesh, Singh’s application said.
The Rajya Sabha MP further claimed that the content of the said FIRs are verbatim similar and have been filed across several districts across a length of more than 700 kilometres of the state on the same day within a span of a few hours. He said he is aware of eight FIRs filed in eight districts including at Lucknow, Sant Kabir Nagar, Khiri, Bagpat, Muzaffarnagar, Basti and at Aligarh. The petitioner submits that the identical FIRs have been filed across several districts across the entire length of the State of Uttar Pradesh pointing very clearly to the fact that FIRs are only aimed at harassing the petitioner and his political associates, he said.
Singh contended that the said FIRs are a threat to the petitioner’s exercise of the right to free speech, right to assemble peacefully; right to move freely throughout the territory of India which are guaranteed under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. The press conference was an exercise through which the petitioner was raising pertinent social and political issues, and the said FIRs have been filed with the sole intention to stifle the voice of opposition which is fundamental to a functional democracy, he added.
He said the FIRs filed against him are “frivolous, baseless, vexatious and are figments of imagination of the complainant and the police department”. It is pertinent to mention that there has not been even a single incident of violence or disharmony as a result of the statements made by the petitioner in the press conference and the said multiple FIRs are in teeth of the settled law enunciated by the top court in various verdicts, where it has been held that there can be no second FIR with respect to same offence. Singh said free and fair elections are a part of the basic structure of the Constitution and any attempt to prevent the opposition from taking part in campaigning or raising pertinent political and social issues is an assault on the basic structure of the Constitution.
He alleged that FIRs have been registered against him on the directions of the Officer of Additional Chief Secretary (Home) to the Station in-charge of the several police stations as per the information and genuine belief of the petitioner. The state machinery in complete derogation of their duties and responsibilities conferred upon it by law have been involved in mounting undue pressure upon the petitioner by threatening to take coercive action against the petitioner in order to make him succumb to their unbridled envy, Singh added.
He said the sole aim of the state machinery is to prevent the petitioner from campaigning in Uttar Pradesh and from carrying out political activities there in the run up to the elections in 2022. In light of the aforesaid, the petitioner prays that the aforesaid FIRs registered against him be quashed as they are nothing but an abuse of process aimed at stifling the voice of opposition in a democracy and the petitioner’s fundamental rights,” he said.
Alternatively, he also sought transfer of the FIRs lodged in connection with the press conference of August 12, 2020 and related political activities of the petitioner outside of Uttar Pradesh.