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Sunday, August 09, 2020

Chhapi violence: Gujarat HC refuses to quash dacoity charges against protester

According to the FIR, while permission was granted for a public gathering on the ground that the assembly is for commemorating the martyrdom of freedom fighters Ashfaqulla Khan and Bismillah (Ram Prasad Bismil), subsequently “a conspiracy was hatched” to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and the permission was hence withdrawn.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: July 10, 2020 9:10:53 pm
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The Gujarat High Court on Monday refused to quash charges of dacoity against one Satish Vansola, one of the people arrested for protesting against the new citizenship law in December in Banaskantha.

The FIR lodged at the Chhapi police station had booked 22 people who were accused of serious offences pertaining to conspiracy (120 B) along with attempt to culpable homicide (308) and endangering life (336), unlawful assembly (143, 149), rioting (147, 153), assault and obstruction to public servants (152, 353), criminal intimidation (506(2)) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The accused have also been charged under the provisions of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

According to the FIR, while permission was granted for a public gathering on the ground that the assembly is for commemorating the martyrdom of freedom fighters Ashfaqulla Khan and Bismillah (Ram Prasad Bismil), subsequently “a conspiracy was hatched” to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and the permission was hence withdrawn.

The FIR had further stated that despite the canceled permit, “3,000 unknown people from Muslim community assembled” and a police vehicle suffered damages as the crowd pelted stones and a side mirror was broken. The FIR alleges that the driver was threatened that if he drove away, he would be killed. It also alleged that the police jeep was rocked violently despite police personnel sitting inside, endangering their lives, had the jeep toppled over.

While the accused were not charged with dacoity in the initial FIR, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Palanpur had made a report on December 22, 2019 to the Magisterial Court, Vadgam requesting that offence under section 395 of IPC be added in the FIR. The ground cited for addition of offence under section 395 IPC was that the accused, Satish Vansola, had forcibly taken away the keys of a state transport bus that was plying on the route.

The court also observed in its order, while dismissing the petition, that as per the records perused by it, “It appears…that during the course of committing theft of the keys of the bus, the petitioner had placed the driver of the said bus under the fear of instant death…”

Advocate Rahul Sharma, who was representing Vansola had submitted that nowhere in the chargesheet was it alleged that the keys of the state transport bus were taken away with the intention to commit theft of the keys. However, the public prosecutor representing the state had submitted that though the chargesheet had been filed, framing of charges remained.

Following the arguments, the court of Justice Gita Gopi ruled that while Vansola could have agitated the issue of indictment of section 395 IPC in the earlier court proceedings where Vansola had sought quashing of the FIR, “the said point was never agitated in the earlier proceedings…” The High Court in January had refused to quash the FIR.

The court observed that the contents in the FIR “could not be agitated in piecemeal,” and that the accused could not plead that an offence under a particular section in the FIR was not pleaded at the initial stage and thus he may be afforded the opportunity to plead again. “Such permission could never be granted and hence, in my opinion, the present petition seeking quashment of a particular section in the form of section 395 of IPC is not maintainable,” stated the order.

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