Jaipur, April 18: A controversy has erupted over the charges brought against VHP leader Praveen Togadia, with his lawyer claiming that the Ashok Gehlot government first invoked a law that carries the death penalty but later withdrew it fearing adverse public opinion.
The lawyer, Onkar Singh Lakhawat, said Togadia was booked under Sections 121 (waging war on the state) and 121A (conspiring to wage war on the state and to overawe it by criminal force) of the IPC on April 14. But charges under Section 121 were dropped on April 16. Punishment under Section 121 is death sentence while that under Section 121A is life imprisonment.
Ajmer’s additional chief judicial magistrate Indu Pareek had found the modification in the police case diary, Lakhawat said.
Police have denied this claim. Inspector-general of police (law and order) A.K. Jain said charges of “sedition” were not brought against Togadia at any stage, as reported in the media on the basis of a briefing by Lakhawat. He pointed out that the IPC has a separate section on sedition — Section 124A.
Home minister Gulab Singh Shaktawat also denied that Togadia was charged with sedition.
Jain said only Sections 121A, 117 (abetting offence by public), 195A (insulting religious belief of any class) and 505 (making statements causing public mischief) were brought against the VHP leader. Section 121A says that anyone who “conspires to commit any of the offences under 121 or conspires to overawe by means of criminal force or show of criminal force the Central government or any state government, shall be punished with life imprisonment”.
Togadia has been booked under 121A not for conspiring to commit any offence under 121, but for overawing the state government, Jain clarified.
Lakhawat, who is state vice-president of the BJP, filed a petition seeking protection for Togadia. The VHP leader fears physical threat from the police and has appealed against rejection of his bail plea. The hearing is fixed for tomorrow.