Coming down heavily on the state government for detaining a sarpanch under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities of 1985 (PASA), the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday ordered to release the sarpanch and directed the local administration to set aside the order of invoking PASA with immediate effect.
On April 22, the sarpanch, Gajendrasinh Bhimaji Jadeja, a resident of Navinal village of Mundra taluka in Kutch district, had moved a petition, alleging that the local administration acted “on the instance of Adani Group” and he was booked under PASA and subsequently detained. He had said that the detention was “mala fide in law”.
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The petitioner had claimed that he was booked under PASA merely on the ground that “he has been fighting against Adani Group in the High Court”. Jadeja had filed two petitions against Adani Group. He mentioned in the petition that the action against him was taken only after a judgment passed by the High Court on January 1, 2014 on his PIL that went against Adani Group. The petition says that the court had ordered to close down Adani SEZ due to the absence of environmental clearance.
Navinal village falls under Adani Port and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ). Jadeja was elected sarpanch three years ago. In the petition, it has been described that the village “lost access to sea and the creeks near the same having completely taken over by the APSEZ, leaving fishermen of Navinal village without means of livelihood”.
Senior lawyer Anand Yagnik, who argued for the petitioner, said that the court came down heavily on the local administration and ordered the release of Jadeja. He said that the local administration detained Jadeja on the basis of a solitary FIR and two non-cognizable complaints. He said that following the FIR, he was granted anticipatory bail. “The order of invoking PASA against Jadeja was in violation of several well-established precedents observed by apex and other courts,” he said. PASA authorises a police commissioner and district collector to detain a person if he or she is involved in repeated anti-social activities, posing threat to law and order.