Monday, March 30, 2009

Famous Indian Parliamentary Candidate Arrested For Anti-Muslim Speeches

In India, the battle over the candidacy of Varun Sanjay Gandhi, grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, continues. Varun Gandhi, a member of the BJP, is a candidate for the lower house of India's Parliament, running from a district in the state of Uttar Pradesh. BBC News reported last week on the March 22 Order of the Election Commission (full text) recommending that Gandhi not be nominated as a candidate because of two speeches he made last month that contained highly derogatory references to the Muslim community. The BJP however continues to support Gandhi as a candidate, saying that the Election Commission was biased and lacked authority to disqualify Gandhi.

Initially two criminal cases were filed against Gandhi, one charging his with violations of India Penal Code 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion), 295A (deliberate acts intended to outrage religious feelings), and 505(2) (circulating statements likely to create or promote ill-will between religious groups). The other was brought under Sec. 125 of the Representation of the People Act 1951 (promoting enmity between classes in connection with election). Then on Sunday, according to, additional charges were also filed by the Uttar Pradesh government under the National Security Act. Under that Act, a person arrested can be detained without bail for up to one year. However, he can contest his detention before a 3-person Advisory Board headed by a High Court judge.