New Delhi: Ruling Congress MLA Mateen Ahmed and his associate were on Tuesday sentenced to three years in jail by a Delhi court for rioting and obstructing government officials in their duty when they were closing down polluting industries in 2001 on Supreme Court orders.
Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmender Rana held the MLA from Seelampur and ex-councillor Jameer Ahmed guilty of charges of rioting, assaulting and causing hurt to deter public servants from discharge of their duty, saying they are "insouciant" members of the legislative assembly and municipal corporation.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 30,000 on each of the two 55-year-old convicts whose sentences were suspended for a month to enable them to file an appeal against the judgement. They were granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 20,000 each with one surety till then.
The court held that the convicts had obstructed two government officials in doing their duty and had also assaulted them in public gaze when they were in the process of implementing the orders of the Supreme Court to shut down the polluting industries.
"The convicts in the instant case are reported to be members of legislative assembly and municipal corporation of Delhi. It is their primary task to legislate for the benefit of society. A person who frames law within the precincts of the temple of democracy is not expected to impudently defy the same on the roads in full public gaze.
"A leader is expected to lead by conduct. This court is at loss to comprehend what message the convicts were trying to convey to the society," the magistrate said.
"It is a very dangerous trend for our democracy that some persons openly and impudently dare to defy the judgments of the apex court and consider themselves to be law unto themselves," he said.
According to the prosecution, the incident took place on January 7, 2001, when Punjabi Bagh circle SDM E Raja Babu along with his team had gone to Jafrabad area in North East Delhi to seal the factory of Ashraf.
During the sealing process, the officials were obstructed by Mateen Ahmed and the other five accused also assaulted the team, it said.
Of the six accused, Mateen Ahmed and Jameer Ahmed were convicted while Sultan Ahmed and Mohammed Ashraf were acquitted. The proceedings against two accused Nadeem Tehelvi and Najim Naqvi were abated as they died during trial.
Meanwhile, the court also issued notice to complainant and SDM Raja Babu and one injured Virender Singh, who turned hostile during trial, seeking their response as to why perjury proceedings should not be initiated against them.
"Complainant E Raja Babu and Virender Singh be also summoned through concerned Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) directing them to explain as to why an appropriate perjury proceedings be not initiated against them.
"Put up the miscellaneous perjury proceedings for hearing on February 7," the court said.
It also said that the conduct of Mateen Ahmeed and Jameer Ahmed in the case has been "remorseless".
"Our generation stands witness to testify for the future generations about the far reaching salubrious impact of the order of the apex court to shut down polluting industries in Delhi. The court is in pain and anguish to record that two insouciant members of the legislative assembly and municipal corporation have openly assaulted public officials while they were implementing the orders of the apex court.
"The conduct of the convicts in the instant matter has been absolutely remorseless. They have tried to screen their guilt by resorting to all possible ways and means. Any feeling of repentance on the part of convicts is missing," it said.
Mateen Ahmed sought leniency in the sentence on the ground that he is an MLA for the past four terms and serving people for the past 20 years.
Mateen and Jameer Ahmed also sought leniency saying that they were not attempting to seek any personal benefit but were infact actuated with an intention to advance public interest.
The magistrate, however, rejected their plea saying, "I fail to understand as to what public interest the convicts were attempting to advance by thwarting the sealing/closure of polluting industries."
The court also said undue sympathy to impose inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice system and society cannot long endure under such serious threats.
"Regretfully, some ill informed persons in the country have nurtured a self conceived notion that law of our country is like spider`s web which crumbles upon the advent of a gargantuan insect. Lawlessness is contagious," it said.
"Let me remind the irreverent, ill informed and self conceited criminals that the tensile strength of the thread of spider`s web is far more superior than high grade steel. This court is of the opinion that if most deterrent punishment is not given for openly defying the orders of the apex court the very existence of the institutions engaged in dispensing criminal justice shall be in jeopardy," the court said.