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Monday, September 26, 2022

Andhra HC stays AP government decision to withdraw prosecution of Muslim youth on LRPF’s PIL

The Andhra HC has put on hold the decision by CM Jagan Mohan Reddy led Andhra Pradesh (AP) government to withdraw prosecution of Muslim youth in relation to crime cases registered in Old Guntur Police Station while observing that religion cannot be a ground to exempt an accused from facing legal action.

The judgement was delivered on a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed by Legal Rights Protection Forum (LRPF) where the organization had contested the AP government’s decision.

In August this year, Principal Secretary of the Home Department Kumar Vishwajeet had passed an order with regard to withdrawing cases against Muslim youth in Old Guntur Police Station citing that it was the state government’s decision to forgo prosecution after ‘careful examination’ of the issue.

Furthermore, the GO (Government Order) RT No 776 also directed the DGP (Director General of Police) to instruct APPs (Assistant Police Prosecutors)/SHOs (Station House Officers) to file a petition in the concerned courts under section 321 (withdrawal of a case under his charge by the APP after written permission from the state government) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC).

LRPF had approached the HC in August after the passage of the above order with a PIL asking for the court’s intervention in the matter with the contention that “withdrawing prosecution based on religion is against the public interest”.

The two-judge division bench of Justices Rakesh Kumar and J Umadevi who heard the PIL in a landmark judgement ruled in favour of LRPF and ordered a stay on the YSRCP government’s decision. Additionally, the court has also advised the petitioner’s advocate to make the NIA (National Investigation Agency) a party in the case.

Justice Rakesh Kumar stated “using Muslim youth is highly objectionable on the state government’s part and even the language of the GO is incorrect in a secular and democratic country like ours. It is a fit case for the NIA to probe”. The government has been given time till the 1st of October to file its reply.

It must be mentioned here that a mob comprising of 2000 Muslim youth had attacked the Old Guntur Police Station in 2018 demanding the alleged release of an accused in a case pertaining to the sexual assault of a minor.

Deadly weapons had been used by the mob thereby causing severe injuries to the police personnel besides inconveniencing the public. On the basis of the complaint filed by the affected police personnel, six FIRs had been registered against the attackers.

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