Lucknow: In a setback to Uttar Pradesh government, the Allahabad High Court on Thursday held that it cannot withdraw prosecution in terror cases in which the accused have been booked under central acts without Centre`s permission.
The ruling was given by the high court`s Lucknow bench of justices Devi Prasad Singh, Ajai Lamba and Ashok Pal Singh on questions raised by a two-judge division bench on a PIL filed by Ranjana Agnihotri and five other local lawyers.
The PIL had sought a direction for quashing the order of the UP government for withdrawal of cases against people accused of blasts and terror activities that included 2007 serial explosions at Lucknow and Gorakhpur.
"Prosecution under central acts cannot be withdrawn without permission of the central government," the three-judge bench said.
BJP welcomed the court ruling saying it was a "slap" on the Akhilesh Yadav government.
"It is a slap on the Akhilesh Yadav government which is following the policy of Muslim appeasement," state BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said.
"For offences under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Explosive Substances Act and Arms Act and the offences falling in Chapter VI of IPC or alike offences the executive power of the Union of India extends, hence the permission of the central government with regard to withdrawal of prosecution shall be necessary," the three-judge bench held.
The bench also said that the prosecution cannot be withdrawn without assigning reason.
"If an application is moved for withdrawal from prosecution in a case relating to terrorism and waging of war against the country, specific and special reason has to be assigned," it said.
On June 7 while staying the state government`s order to withdraw cases against people accused of terror activities, a division bench of justices Rajeev Sharma and Mahendra Dayal had referred the matter to a larger bench.
The two-judge bench had questioned whether the state government could issue an order for withdrawAl of cases without any request being there from the public prosecutor.
It had also raised the question whether the prosecution of offence relating to the central act may be withdrawn without taking permission from the central government.
It had further asked, "Whether the state government after giving sanction for prosecution review its own order by issuing orders for withdrawal of the cases."
The larger bench comprising the three judges while answering the questions directed that the case be listed before the appropriate bench.