Congress leader Pawan Khera was on Thursday arrested by the Assam Police at the national capital’s airport after being deplaned from a Delhi-Raipur flight in connection with his alleged remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was later granted interim bail by the Supreme Court.
Khera was on his way to Raipur for the Congress plenary session when he was arrested by the police amid high drama.
“He was detained by the Delhi Police on a request by Assam Police. We were just extending support to them. The arrest has been made by them,” a senior Delhi Police officer said.
Later in the day, the apex court granted interim bail to Khera till February 28 in the case.
“In order to protect the petitioner (Khera) until he applies for regular bail before the jurisdictional courts in relation to all the FIRs, we direct that till the next date of listing, the petitioner shall be released on interim bail by the court of competent magistrate in Delhi,” said a bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices M.R. Shah and P.S. Narasimha.
The bench said its order will remain operational till February 28 and posted the matter for further hearing on February 27.
The top court also issued notices to Assam and Uttar Pradesh governments on Khera’s request to club together three separate FIRs lodged against him in these two states.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for Khera, told the court that the Congress leader had already apologised for his remarks and the offences alleged against him in the cases did not require arrest.
In related news, a case has been registered at Haflong police station in Assam against Khera under various sections of the IPC, including 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national interest), 500 (punishment for defamation) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), for his alleged remarks against the prime minister.
Dima Hasao Superintendent of Police Mayank Kumar told PTI that one Samuel Changsan filed a complaint on Wednesday at Haflong police station over Khera’s comments on Modi and other issues.
“His (Khera) comments against the PM is one part of the FIR. There are other complaints also. The case is registered under several sections of the IPC,” the SP said. Kumar said that the sections are non-bailable and a police team has already gone to the National Capital to investigate the case.
Meanwhile, as drama escalated at terminal one of the domestic airport in New Delhi, flight staff told Congress leaders there was confusion with Khera’s bags. They said police was on its way and would explain the reason to him.
Senior Delhi Police officials later handed over a document from Assam Police seeking their help in the detention of Khera. Several party leaders got off the plane after Khera was deboarded and staged a dharna on the tarmac. They did not allow police to take Khera away without an arrest warrant.
“We are all on the @IndiGo6E flight 6E 204 to Raipur and all of a sudden my colleague @Pawankhera has been asked to deplane,” Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate, who was also on the flight, said on Twitter. “What sort of high handedness is this? Is there any rule of law? On what grounds is this being done and under whose order?” she said.
The flight was delayed and the Indigo staff said the passengers will be put on another flight to Raipur.