[2014 inflammatory speech case] Supreme Court stays Allahabad High Court order dismissing CM Arvind Kejriwal's plea seeking discharge

Read Time: 07 minutes


Allegedly Kejriwal made a speech in 2014 where he said that the voters of the Congress would be termed as ‘Gaddar' (traitor) of the country’ whereas the voters of the Bhartiya Janta Party would not be pardoned by ‘Khuda'.

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Allahabad High Court order dismissing the plea filed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal assailing an order of Sultanpur Sessions Court that had rejected his revision application seeking discharge in the 2014 inflammatory speech case.

A bench of KM Joseph and Justice BV Nagarathna said, "You said God will not forgive you, why on earth should you bring God?"

The allegation against the Chief Minister is that in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, flouting the Model Code of Conduct he made a speech where he said: “Jo Congress ko vote dega, mera manana hoga, desh ke saath gaddari hogi; jo Bhajpa ko vote dega use Khuda bhi muaf nahin karega,” (Who will vote for Congress, I will consider him a traitor to the country; who will vote for BJP, will not be forgiven even by 'Khuda').

Denying the relief as sought by Kejriwal through an application under Section 482 CrPC, the Allahabad High Court bench of Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan had observed, "...reasonable restrictions (over freedom of speech and expression) are meant for preserving inter-alia public order, decency or morality. Prima facie, it is not decent for a person, who is the Chief Minister of one State, to utter any sentence or word which has any hidden meaning".

The high court had held that though Khuda, Bhagwan, or God are one and the same, using the word ‘Khuda’ by one Hindu leader only for those voters, who cast their votes to the Bhartiya Janta Party, not to the Congress can only be clarified by the applicant (Kejriwal) during the course of the trial about his intent.

The judge had emphasized, "I am unable to comprehend as to how such speech would constitute a propagation of ideas or would have any social value".

Therefore, noting that it had been informed that credible evidence against Kejriwal had been collected during the investigation and the charge sheet had been filed, the high court had opined that the veracity of the charge may not be examined or tested by the High Court by invoking its inherent power under Section 482 CrPC.

The case against Kejriwal was lodged by Flying Squad Magistrate in 2014 under Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 at Kotwali Musafirkhana Police Station in Amethi district. After completion of the investigation, the Investigating Officer submitted the charge sheet against Kejriwal and on September 6, 2014, the trial court took cognizance against him and summoned him.

Thereafter, Kejriwal sought an exemption from his personal appearance before the trial court which eventually got allowed by the Supreme Court as an interim measure. However, in October 2021, Kejriwal had to appear before the court of Magistrate where he was granted bail in the matter. 

Seeking discharge in the case, Kejriwal's counsel argued that Kejriwal neither made any appeal for a vote on the ground of religion etc. nor he promoted enmity between the classes of the people, therefore, he may not be held liable for the offence under Section 125 of the Act, 1951.

He also contended that whatever statement was made by Kejriwal was merely based upon his personal opinion and such statement is protected under Article 19 of the Constitution of India i.e. “Freedom of Speech and Expressions”.

Case Title: Arvind Kejriwal Vs. State of UP & Anr