Thane police on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that it will not take any coercive action till Monday against the MNS workers charged with assaulting and evicting hawkers from near Thane railway station. The assurance from the police came while a division bench of the high court was hearing a petition filed by eight workers of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), including its Thane unit chief Avinash Jadhav.
The petitioners had challenged the two show cause notices issued to them earlier this month by the Thane Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP). On November 1 and 3, the ACP sent the show cause notices to the petitioners directing them to explain why they should not be ordered to execute a bond and surety of Rs 1 crore each.
In sending the notices, the ACP had invoked his quasi-judicial powers under the Criminal Procedure Code that enables him to require any person to show cause why he or she should not be ordered to execute a bond, if the police anticipates that such a person might disturb the law and order situation.
The petitioners’ counsel, Rajendra Shirodkar, however, argued before the high court that while the bond amount was exorbitant and unjustified, the show cause notices issued against the petitioners were unwarranted and had been issued by the police without any application of mind.
He argued that while it was normal a practice for the police to issue such notices or impose exorbitant bond and surety amounts upon such accused persons, who were habitual offenders, the same was unjustified in the present case since the petitioners did not have any criminal antecedents.
Shirodkar said that only two police cases had been registered against the petitioners, both owing to the incident involving the eviction of the Thane hawkers earlier this month.
While a bench of justices Ranjit More and Shalini-Phansalkar Joshi did not issue any written orders today, they agreed during the hearing that the petitioners did not prima facie appear to be habitual offenders.
At this, the prosecutor, on behalf of the Thane police, said, “We will not take any other coercive action against the petitioners till November 20, the next date of hearing and not ask them to execute the bond amount.”
Besides Jadhav, the other MNS workers who have approached the court are – Ravindra Sonar, Ashish Doke, Mahesh Kadam, Sushant Suryarao, Sandeep Salunke, Ravindra More and Vishwajit Jadhav.
The petitioners are accused of assaulting, forcefully evicting and damaging the property of hawkers from in and around the Thane Railway station and railway bridge.
A case was registered against them on October 21 this year by the Naupada police. They were subsequently arrested and released on bail.
However, as per the plea, on November 1 this year, the Naupada police wrote to the Thane ACP suggesting that some preventive action be initiated against the petitioners and consequently, the show cause notices were issued.
“A bare look at the notices will show a total non-application of mind on part of the ACP in arriving at the conclusion that the petitioners pose a threat to the lives and properties of the public at large,” the plea reads.
“The entire proceedings have been initiated against the petitioners by the ACP with malafide intentions and are thus, bad in law,” it reads.