The court of Additional Sessions and District Judge Mohammad Gulzar on Tuesday acquitted Kobad Ghandy, an alleged leader of banned CPI (Maoist), of all charges in a six-year-old case. He was booked by police in 2010 for delivering two “anti-national” speeches at Punjabi University. After his acquittal by the court, Ghandy disassociated himself from the banned outfit. “I was never a member of any banned outfit and this has been proved both in Delhi and Patiala courts,” he said.
Arguing for Ghandy, defence counsel Brijinder Singh Sodhi brought to fore the ‘shoddy’ credentials of one of the prosecution witnesses, who he claimed was already facing multiple criminal cases and had even been awarded life term by a court.Sodhi pleaded that such witnesses had personal interests — of getting ‘concessions’ from the police — and they had given statements under pressure.Another witness refused to identify Ghandy as the one who had delivered a speech on the university campus. The defence also challenged the prosecution’s failure of producing even a single university employee to testify against Ghandy. The prosecution had a list of 13 witnesses out of which one could not be produced and was shown as untraceable.Ghandy had been booked in January 2010 by Patiala Sadar police under Sections 10, 13, 18 and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Sections 419 and 120-B of the IPC for holding meetings on the premises of Punjabi University in April and May 2009 to allegedly promote the Maoist ideology.
He was brought here from Cherlapally Central Jail, Telangana, on September 27 this year and the case was concluded in 20 days as the hearing was held on day-to-day basis.Earlier in May, one of his associates, Bacha Yadav who was also facing charges under UAPA was discharged by the same court for want of prosecution sanction, which was to come from by the Union government. He was released from Central Jail, Patiala, in June.Ghandy was arrested by the Delhi police in September 2009. He had later moved a bail plea in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which was rejected.He had pleaded that he was booked for delivering a lecture on the Punjabi University campus in April and May 2009 and at that time CPI (Maoist) was not banned. The organisation was banned in June 22, 2009, he had argued. In June this year, a Delhi court had also acquitted Ghandy of charges under Section 20 and 38 (member of banned outfit and furthering its activities) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), but convicted him of cheating, forgery and impersonation under provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Following conviction, he was shifted to Cherlapally Central Jail.