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Court allows withdrawal of case against Uma Bharti
September 06, 2004 11:17 IST
Last Updated: September 06, 2004 12:55 IST
A Hubli court on Monday allowed the Karnataka government to withdraw a case against former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti, which had led to her arrest. She may be released soon.
Bharti faced charges in a case of rioting in which five people were killed in police firing when she defied prohibitory orders to hoist the national flag at the Idgah Maidan on the Independence Day in 1994. She had resigned as chief minister on August 23 to appear before the court in Hubli.
In an about-turn, the Karnataka government had on August 30 told the high court that it stood by a two-year old Cabinet decision dropping the charges. The high court directed the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Hubli, to consider the application of the Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) seeking withdrawal of the cases against the Bharatiya Janata Party leader.
On Monday, Chief Judicial Magistrate First Class Mohammed Ismail allowed the application filed by the Additional Public Prosecutor in 2002 for withdrawal of the case against Bharti and 21 others.
The court also rejected a batch of five applications filed by social activists, including journalist Gauri Lankesh, challenging the Karnataka government's decision to withdraw the case.
The magistrate's brief order was communicated to the authorities in the Hubli sub-jail. Bharti is being detained in nearby Dharwad and is expected to be released in the afternoon. She is then expected to make a public address in Hubli.
As the order came, BJP activists, several of them from Madhya Pradesh, who were present outside the court, celebrated.
Speaking to reporters in Hubli, BJP leader Jagadish Shettar hailed the court order and said it was a blow to the state government. The BJP would soon take out a 'Tirang Yatra' from Hubli. Also, the BJP rally in Bangalore, slated for September 8, would be celebrated as 'victory rally'.
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Babulal Gaur told NDTV that he would not be making way for Bharti. That was the decision of the party.
The BJP had termed the revival of the case by the Karnataka government as political vendetta and had launched an agitation to lodge its protest. Indications are that Bharti's arrest would be made an election issue in neighbouring Maharashtra, which goes to the polls on October 13.
Counsel for Bharti, S Dore Raju described the verdict as 'a victory for democracy and rule of law' and said the court had upheld the 'nationalistic view'.
"The law has not surrendered to anyone despite political pressure," he said.
Incidentally, the court order came just a day before the 14-day judicial custody of Bharti is to end on Tuesday.
After relinquishing the chief minister's post, Bharti had surrendered before a Hubli court on August 25 following a non-bailable warrant issued against her in connection with the 10-year-old case.
She was facing charges of attempt to murder and 'mischief by fire', which were filed against her after violence broke out during a BJP-led agitation in 1994 for hoisting the national flag at Idgah Maidan in Hubli.
More reports from Karnataka
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