UP files petition against Varun Gandhi's acquittal

Lucknow, May 29 (IANS) The Uttar Pradesh government Wednesday filed a petition in a court challenging the acquittal of BJP general secretary Varun Gandhi in a hate speech case.

The case will be heard June 10, officials said.

The Samajawadi Party (SP) government filed the petition after it came under fire from minority community leaders who alleged that SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had gone "soft" on Gandhi.

Fearing a backlash from Muslims, a critical component of the SP's vote base in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, Chief Minister Akhikesh Yadav then directed his law officials to seek a review of the matter.

Gandhi was exonerated in the hate speech case by a chief judicial magistrate (CJM) court in Pilibhit March 5. He was also let off in another similar case a week earlier due to lack of evidence.

The case was slapped by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government on Gandhi March 8, 2009, for spreading hatred against a religion.

A Supreme Court (SC) bench comprising Justice Altamash Kabeer and Justice S.A.S. Nijjar had issued a notice to Gandhi in 2011 on a petition seeking his disqualification from contesting elections on inciting religious sentiments.

A petition filed by Congress candidate V.M. Singh was earlier rejected by the Allahabad High Court. Gandhi had to spend 20 days in jail before he was released on bail and later won his Lok Sabha election on a BJP ticket from Pilibhit.

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