In a big setback to UP politician Mukhtar Ansari, the Delhi High Court on Monday set aside the trial court’s order granting custody parole for canvassing in the ongoing assembly polls. The plea demanding parole cancellation was moved by election commission. Ansari has over 40 criminal cases against him, including that of murder and kidnapping.
Ansari, an MLA who recently joined the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to contest from Mau Assembly seat in UP, was given custody parole till March 4, enabling him to campaign in the election.
The high court on February 17 had stayed its order after the central poll panel moved a plea seeking cancellation of his parole on the ground that he may influence witnesses in the 2005 murder case of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai, in which he is facing trial.
Later the State of Uttar Pradesh, the prosecuting agency and the complainant in the BJP MLA’s case also moved the high court opposing Ansari’s release from jail in Lucknow.
However, their contention was opposed by Ansari’s counsel, who had questioned the Election Commission of India’s claims and refuted that his movement in his constituency cannot be restricted as none of the witnesses are from there.
“Participation of candidates in free and fair election is also a basic structure of the Constitution,” his counsels and senior advocates Salman Khurshid and Sudhir Nandrajog argued. They also contended that Ansari has been elected from Mau constituency for a record four times and he is willing to give an undertaking to the court that he will not violate its order.
The ECI, however, strongly opposed their contention, arguing that his release will have a direct impact on conduct of free and fair election in Mau constituency. “We have material to oppose the parole,” EC counsel Dayan Krishnan had argued.
The trial court had on February 16 granted him custody parole. Ansari, while seeking the relief, had told the trial court that he has been in judicial custody since December 2005 and was granted parole to contest polls earlier too.
(With inputs from the PTI)