Lucknow: The recent disappearance of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister Rakesh Sachan from court, and his subsequent reappearance has caused much drama in Uttar Pradesh.
Soon after being held guilty Saturday in an Arms Acts case lodged against him in 1991 for failing to produce a license for a firearm recovered from him, Sachan, a cabinet minister in the Yogi Adityanath-led government, allegedly took the court order file and “fled” from a Kanpur court.
The firearm, the police had claimed then, was purportedly used in the death of a youth leader.
Two days later, though, he surrendered before the court and was sentenced to one year of imprisonment with a fine of Rs 1,500. However, hours later, he was granted bail on a bond of ₹50,000.
“After an accused is pronounced guilty, they are immediately taken into custody by the police. This clearly did not happen in the case,” Noida-based advocate Pramendra Bhati told ThePrint.
Following the alleged fleeing, the court reader gave a written complaint to the Kanpur police, but an FIR is yet to be filed in the case.
The complaint, of which ThePrint has a copy, states that after the conviction, Sachan’s “lawyer took the file of the court order to see the decision” when the “accused Rakesh Sachan fled with the decision/punishment order from the record”.
“Security personnel, supporters and around 40-50 other people were present during the incident and due to a huge crowd in the courtroom, the court staff could not do anything, and the accused fled the spot”, it adds.
Speaking to ThePrint, ACP (Kotwali) Ashok Kumar Singh said: “The inquiry started on Monday itself. It has to be submitted within a week.”
“Sachan is a big minister. The BJP says it is a party ‘with a difference’ but their minister has escaped from court with the patravali (court record). If the BJP is really different and works for sushasan (good governance), it should take action against him,” said Dr Imran, Kanpur District President of the Samajwadi Party (SP), Sachan’s former party, to ThePrint, after his surrender.
Raghvendra Pratap Singh, one of Sachan’s new team of six lawyers, however, told ThePrint that the minister “left the court because he was feeling unwell and nauseous”.
“He did not leave without permission but followed the advice of his former lawyer. He appeared before the court Monday; they took him in custody and also granted him bail. We now have 30 days to appeal in the sessions court as a part of the process,” he said.
Speaking to ThePrint, another one of Sachan’s lawyers, Shivakant Dikshit said that he was engaged by the minister Sunday. “I am yet to study the entire case in depth but the minister was charged under sections 20, 25 and 30 of the Arms Act.”
This is by no means the first time that Sachan has made headlines for the wrong reasons. The minister has been dogged by controversy throughout his political career.
According to his election affidavit filed in 2014, Sachan was booked under Sections 147 (charges related to punishment for rioting), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in 1987 when an FIR was lodged against him in the Kotwali police station of Kanpur.
In that affidavit, Sachan disclosed that he had eight cases against him where charges had been framed. However, in the affidavit filed by Sachan in the 2022 assembly polls, he declared that six cases were pending against him, including the Arms Act case (1991) currently in the news.
Seen as a senior leader among the OBC Kurmi caste of Kanpur region, Sachan was considered close to SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother Shivpal during his long stint with the party.
After over three decades with the SP, though, Sachan switched to the Congress alleging that the SP, going back on its promise, had denied him a ticket from Fatehpur Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 general election. During his time with the Congress, he even became part of the core group of senior UP leaders led by Priyanka Gandhi.
However, he came third in that election, which was won by the BJP’s Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti. Sachan realised that the Congress’ eroding base in the state would not help further his ambitions, so, in January this year, he joined the BJP in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, two days after the nomination process for the UP assembly polls (third phase) started in 2022.
“He realised that the Congress could not offer him enough and switched over to the BJP, which was looking for a Kurmi leader to fight from Bhognipur to replace former MLA Vinod Katiyar who had courted controversies. Sachan suited the BJP too,” said Dr Ramesh Verma, former Head of Department, Hindi, in DAV College, affiliated to the Kanpur University, Sachan’s alma mater.
The switch worked out well for Sachan. He was given a cabinet berth and charge of several portfolios, including MSME, Khadi and village industries and sericulture.
Roots in student politics
A native of the Ghatampur area of Kanpur Nagar district, Sachan started out in politics as most SP politicians do — with student politics.
Dr Verma told ThePrint, “Sachan came to Kanpur from the suburbs in the 1980s and got involved in student politics. Ever since then he has courted controversies. For example, when he was not getting admission in DAV, he used his OBC clout to get admission.”
Sachan’s contemporary and the current SP MLA from Baberu, Vishambhar Singh Yadav, told ThePrint that Kurmi leader Narendra Singh, an agriculture minister in the erstwhile Congress government in UP, had intervened to ascertain Sachan’s admission in DAV.
“I was serving as the president of the students’ union in 1982 when he joined. Sachan fought the election for the post of general secretary in 1983 but lost,” said Yadav, adding that 10 years later, Sachan got a ticket from the Janata Dal and became the Ghatampur MLA in 1993.
A controversial figure
Ahead of the 2022 assembly polls, Sachan grabbed headlines when he was caught on camera allegedly suggesting ways of faking medical ailments to avail money disbursed under the farmer insurance scheme (Kisan Bima).
He was heard saying that the villagers should create a fake injury mark on the feet of the deceased and get a post mortem done. He also assured them that, at his behest, the doctors would mention the findings are “suspicious” so that the slide is sent to the Agra forensic laboratory, after which they can easily claim the amount.
The case making news now is the one lodged against Sachan in 1991 in Kanpur’s Naubasta police station under IPC sections 304 A (death due to negligence) and sections 20 and 25 of the Arms Act, for which charges were framed in November 2006, as mentioned in Sachan’s affidavit.
On 13 August, 1991, a licensed weapon was recovered from Rakesh Sachan which, it was alleged, had been used in the killing of Nripendra Sachan, a youth leader. According to a news report, Sachan’s lawyers have argued that the rifle found was in the name of Rakesh Sachan’s grandfather, but Sachan had, back then, failed to show a license for it, leading to an FIR being lodged against him.
(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)