Varun replies to poll panel notice, gets anticipatory bail (Lead)

March 20th, 2009 - 2:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) Varun Gandhi, who Friday got anticipatory bail from the Delhi High Court, said in his reply to an Election Commission notice that his speeches in Pilibhit where he is contesting as a BJP candidate were not intended to spark communal ill-will and reiterated that the tapes were doctored.
His lawyers argued in the reply that tapes of the alleged hate-Muslim inflammatory speeches had been tampered with and that they were not intended to incite communal feelings.

As Varun Gandhi submitted his response to the Election Commission, the Delhi High Court gave him anticipatory bail till March 27 in the criminal case filed against him on the directions of the Election Commission over his alleged anti-Muslim speeches.

Justice Reva Khetrapal granted anticipatory bail after lawyers argued that the provision for anticipatory bail wasn’t available in Uttar Pradesh. The candidate from Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh, in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls was asked to furnish a personal bond of Rs.50,000.

Appearing for Varun Gandhi, senior advocate Sidharth Luthra said his client apprehended arrest in Delhi and had come to the high court.

Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami had already made it clear that the onus of proving that the video CD - containing the inflammatory hate speech - was tampered with rests with Varun Gandhi himself.

“We have seen the videos. It is for Varun to prove that it has been tampered with. The question of disqualification arises only when nomination starts,” Gopalaswami said Thursday in Kolkata where he is overseeing poll arrangements.

The ‘other’ Gandhi, the son of the late Sanjay Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi, has been in the eye of a storm since the emergence of a CD showing him making a number of communally inflammatory speeches. Even his own party, the BJP, has distanced itself from him, while the Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist have asked that his nomination be withdrawn.

The first information report (FIR) against Varun Gandhi was filed at Barkheda Police Station in Pilibhit under Sections 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act.

The grandson of late prime minister Indira Gandhi, Varun Gandhi, who is planning to make his electoral debut this year, has alleged that he was part of a conspiracy to spoil his political career and tarnish his secular image.

“Who has made it (CD)? It has been doctored and is a malicious attempt to brand me communal. There is no question of my having differences with any community. Where was the CD for 12 days and why was it released on March 16?” he asked Tuesday while talking to reporters.

Holding that his alleged anti-Muslim speeches amounted to violation of the model code of conduct, the Election Commission slapped notices on Varun Gandhi and the BJP, seeking their response by Friday and ordered video tracking of his entire campaign.

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