Observing that no person should try to obstruct a government servant from performing his duty, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked 13 students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who have been charged for obstructing the demolition of illegal slums, to meet the DCP and explain their stand.
A division bench of Justices N H Patil and Anuja Prabhudessai was hearing a petition filed by the TISS students seeking to quash the complaint filed against them under section 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) and 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly) of the
Indian Penal Code.
Their petition said the students work with the community of pavement dwellers in suburban Deonar and when the demolition squad arrived they were trying to reason out with the authorities not to carry out the demolition.
Additional public prosecutor Mankunwar Deshmukh, however, told the court that the police had tried to reason with the students and told them that the slums were illegal encroachments.
“We have statements from witnesses saying that despite the police reasoning with them, the students misbehaved and committed the offence. Even now they are not cooperating with the investigation and are behaving adamant,” she said.
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The advocate appearing for the petitioners told the court that the students had only asked the police if they had issued notice prior to the demolition drive which was carried out early this year. The advocate said the students are ready to apologise.
“You cannot obstruct a government official from doing his duty. The students might have used an authoritative tone with the police. Ask the students to go meet the Deputy Commissioner of Police of that area and explain their stand. If he is convinced then good,” Justice Patil said. The court has posted the petition for hearing after two weeks.