Hate speech case: Court frames charges against Varun Gandhi

After three years of legal process, a local court in Pilibhit district of Uttar Pradesh framed (UP) charges against Varun Gandhi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Pilibhit, in the 2009 hate speech case. Varun had allegedly made inflammatory comments against Muslims in his speeches at public meetings in Pilibhit during 2009 Lok Sabha election campaign.

Framing of charges by the court means that Varun will have to face the trial. The development has come amid speculation that the UP government may withdraw cases lodged against Varun during the previous Mayawati regime.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Abdul Qyaum took cognizance of the charge sheets filed by the police in two criminal cases lodged against Varun for making hate speeches. The court took cognizance under Section 505(2) and 295 of the Indian Penal Code.

Great-grandson of the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Varun has been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the People’s Representative Act for promoting enmity and acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony. While two FIRs were lodged against Varun for allegedly delivering inflammatory speeches, one was lodged in connection with the violence when he was taken to jail after his surrender.

Varun, however, had strongly denied the charges and termed the case as an attempt to malign his image. He had claimed that in one instance he was referring to bad elements and in the second one, the tapes have been doctored.

In 2009, Mayawati led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was in power in the state. Varun was arrested in March 2009 for alleged hate speeches. The state government had then also slapped National Security Act (NSA) on the 32-year-old BJP leader but it was revoked in May 2009 on the direction of the Supreme Court. Now, Akhilesh Yadav Samajwadi Party (SP) is at the helms of affair in UP.

Significantly, Varun had in September this year written to the SP government requesting to withdraw cases against him while describing them as ‘politically motivated’. On his request, the state government had sought a report from the Pilibhit district administration on whether the cases could be withdrawn or not in public interest.