Pawan Khera’s apology is without any genuine remorse, Assam and Uttar Pradesh tell SC

The Assam and Uttar Pradesh governments on Friday opposed Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera’s plea in the Supreme Court to club all three first information reports filed against him for his comments about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, PTI reported.

At a press conference on February 17, Khera had called the prime minister “Narendra Gautamdas Modi” – an apparent reference to embattled business tycoon Gautam Adani.

Khera had swapped Modi’s middle name Damodardas with Gautamdas while demanding an investigation into American firm Hindenburg Research’s report accusing the Adani Group of engaging in stock market manipulation.

On February 23, the Assam Police arrested Khera from Delhi airport based on a complaint filed in Dima Hasao district by BJP leader and executive member of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council Samuel Changsan. Khera was deplaned from an IndiGo flight amid high drama. He was released on bail after the Supreme Court intervened in the case.

Later, cases were also filed against the Congress leader in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow and Varanasi.

In separate affidavits on Friday, the Assam and Uttar Pradesh governments said they wanted to investigate the cases independently.

The Assam government said that the apology tendered by Khera’s counsel during the hearing of the case was “a tactical submission to get a preventive order without any genuine remorse or repentance”.

The government also argued that Khera’s actions were not unintentional. “A closer look at the available audio video clearly reveals that the petitioner has mischievously uttered sentences not only with an extreme degree of irresponsibility but reducing the level of discourse at its lowest,” the affidavit stated.

The government wants to investigate the motivation behind the “utterances” and the “ultimate end” Khera wanted to achieve, according to the affidavit.

“That it is submitted that the leaders of the political party [Congress] to which the petitioner belongs have, even after this hon’ble court taking cognisance of the matter, continued the very same low level in their official Twitter handles and other social media account,” the Assam government added.

The FIR filed in Assam is “qualitatively different” from the cases registered at Lucknow and Varanasi, the government told the Supreme Court.

On its part, the Uttar Pradesh government claimed that Khera was making an attempt to “leapfrog” the normal procedure available under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

“The petitioner is not entitled to seek the intervention of this court in the course of an investigation,” it said.

Referring to one of the FIRs, the Uttar Pradesh government said Khera had sarcastically made the remarks about the prime minister’s father “as a deliberate attempt to ridicule him”.

The Supreme Court will hear the matter on March 17. Khera cannot be arrested till then as the court extended the interim bail granted to him on February 23.

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