The Bombay High Court on Thursday issued notice to state government seeking its response on a plea filed by a Thane-based civil engineer who has sought a transfer of the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in an incident where he was allegedly beaten up by 10-15 men associated with the state Housing Minister, Jitendra Awhad, for posting a morphed photograph of the NCP leader on social media earlier this month. The plea also sought Awhad’s name to be included as accused in the FIR lodged by Thane police in the matter.
A single-judge bench of Justice Girish S Kulkarni heard the plea through video-conferencing and directed that CCTV camera footage of Awhad’s bungalow for the relevant period be submitted in a sealed cover to a magistrate in Thane. The bench posted the matter for further hearing to April 30, asking the state to file reply.
In his police complaint, the engineer, Anant Karmuse (40), had stated that he had uploaded a morphed photograph of the minister on Facebook, mocking him in connection with PM Narendra Modi’s appeal to light candles at 9 pm on April 5 to mark the battle against COVID-19.
Karmuse had told police that at 11.50 pm on April 5, four persons, including two men dressed in police uniform, came to his residence at Anand Nagar area of Ghodbunder Road in Thane. The “policemen”, he claimed, told him to accompany them to the police station, but instead took him to Awhad’s bungalow behind Viviana Mall, where he was allegedly assaulted. An FIR has was registered against “unidentified persons” under several IPC sections for abduction, causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means, rioting and intimidation at Thane police station on April 8. Five persons were subsequently arrested by Vartak Nagar Police station in the matter.
Earlier, Awhad had told The Indian Express that he did not know anything about anyone being beaten. “However, this person has been putting up obscene memes and photos of leaders of my party and family members for the past two years. This is a classic case of someone abusing freedom of speech,” he had said.
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