Allahabad High Court stays proceedings against SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav in Covid-norms violation case

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Allegedly, during the SP Chief's election campaign in February 2022 in the area of district-Gautam Budh Nagar, Covid-19 guidelines as well as the Model Code of Conduct, 2022 were violated

The Allahabad High Court has on Tuesday stayed the criminal proceedings pending before the MP/MLA Court, Gautambudh Nagar, involving Samajwadi Party Chief and former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav. The matter pertains to alleged violations of the model code of conduct and Covid-19 norms during events in 2022.

The bench of Justice Raj Beer Singh passed the order in an application filed under Section 482, CrPC by the SP leader. 

While granting the interim relief, court directed the state to file a counter affidavit within a period of four weeks. "...rejoinder affidavit, if any, may be filed within a period of two weeks thereafter," court added. 

The matter will be next heard on January 22, 2024. 

In the case, the first information report (FIR) was lodged against fourteen named accused persons, including the SP leader and 300-400 unknown persons. It was alleged that on February 3, 2022, at 22.30 PM Akhilesh Yadav, along with co-accused Jayant Chaudhary, who were travelling from Luharli Gate, Gautam Budh Nagar in Samajwadi Rath (vehicle) towards Noida, were welcomed by the co-accused persons and during that process a large gathering had assembled. The guidelines of Covid-19 were violated, which endangered spreading of pandemic, the FIR stated. 

"At that time the proclamation under Section 144 CrPC, as well as Model Code of Conduct, was also in force and that from 22.00 hrs. to 8.00 hrs., there was prohibition on convessing and in that way, the proclamation under Section 144 Cr. P. C., Covid-19 guidelines as well as the Model Code of Conduct, 2022 were violated," the opposite parties contended. 

On the other hand, counsel representing Akhilesh Yadav submitted that he had visited the area of district-Gautam Budh Nagar in relation to election campaign after prior information to the district administration and then it was the duty and responsibility of district administration and police to manage the public gathering.

He argued that in the vehicle (rath), in which the SP leader was travelling, there were only five seats and that the applicant was not suffering from Covid-19 pandemic or any other infectious disease and thus, it could not be said that the applicant had violated any guideline of Covid-19 or did any negligent act to spread infection and thus no prima facie case under Sections 269 and 270 of the IPC was made out.

Moreover, he emphasised that for cognizance of offence under Section 188, IPC, a complaint is required to be filed in accordance with the provisions of Section 195 CrPC, but in the instant matter, no such complaint had been filed, thus, no congizance under Section 188, IPC could have been taken.

Apart from that, the counsel submitted that the investigation had been conduced most casually and mechanically as similar statements had been attributed to all the witnesses and that cogniaznce had also been taken by the Court below in a mechanical manner without considering the facts of the matter.

Considering the facts of the matter, the submissions of the counsel for all the parties, court opined that the matter required consideration and hearing on merits.

Therefore, while posting the matter for further hearing, court stayed the proceedings pending before the MP/MLA court. 

Case Title: Akhilesh Yadav v. State of U.P. and Another