Court admits BJP petition against Rahul Gandhi

BHOPAL: A day before AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi comes to Madhya Pradesh for the second phase of his election campaigning, a court inBhopal on Wednesday admitted a complaint lodged by the BJP against the Congress leader’s alleged use of the word ‘rape’ before a gathering of tribals on October 17.

The court of first class judicial magistrate (atrocity) Bhopal Vishal Sharma, on Wednesday admitted a complaint petition lodged by BJP national vice-president Prabhat Jha against Rahul Gandhi under provisions of section 200 CrPC and section 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. The sections deal with punishment for offences of atrocities against “whoever, not being a member of a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of the scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe in any place within public view.”

First hearing of the case has been scheduled for November 19 when Prabhat Jha will have to be present before the court to record his statement in the case. After examination of the recorded statement, the court will decide whether or not to issue a notice to Rahul Gandhi for intentional humiliation of tribals while addressing an election campaign meeting in Shahdol district on October 17.

Rahul Gandhi was addressing his first election campaign meeting in tribal-dominated Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh last Thursday. Speaking on the Shivraj Singh Chouhan BJP government, he said: “Do you think that the incumbent government for ten years has respected tribals? What do you feel? What do your women think, has this government respected you? They indulged in corruption,” Rahul said. Someone from the crowds interrupted and shouted back, “Balatkar kiya (indulged in rape)”. Rahul Gandhi, thereafter, corrected himself and repeated: “Balatkar, sorry balatkar.”

Speaking to TOI, complainant Prabhat Jha’s lawyer Om Shrivastava argued that under the provisions of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, one cannot even utter the word rape before tribals because it amounts to their humiliation. And Rahul Gandhi first asked the entire gathering of tribals, including the women if they had been respected. And thereafter, said they had been raped.

Prabhat Jha’s petition argued: “That, while addressing the gathering the accused with a motive to alienate the public from the state government uttered words which were not only humiliating but also obscene… That, the word ‘balatkar’ is taken for as a very derogatory and demeaning term. The words itself brings with it stigma, humiliation and most importantly inferiority complex. The accused uttered the wprd again and again in his speech only with the intention to humiliate the tribal population present in the said meeting.”

The petition further reasoned: “That, the Constitution of India mandates life of dignity of all the people of India irrespective of the class, creed or religion. The accused has not only insulted the tribals present in the meeting but all the tribals living in Madhya Pradesh, which has a sizeable tribal population.” Complainant Jha prayed before the court “to punish the accused in accordance to the law”.

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