May 29, 2021 2:55:15 am
The Bombay High Court recently appointed a Principal District and Sessions Judge, Thane to “independently” enquire if Kharghar Police station, Navi Mumbai, “illegally detained” a lawyer, Vimal Jha, between April 3 and 5 and “illegally handcuffed” him while producing him before the Magistrate on April 5 to seek his police custody.
After one of his clients accused Jha of kidnapping him in the first week of April and demanding a ransom of Rs 3 crore, Jha was booked by the police.
A division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice S P Tavade passed an order on May 19 after hearing a writ plea filed by Vimal Jha, the accused, and a PIL by a group called Lawyers for Just Society, challenging the arrest, argued by advocates Prashant Pandey and Subhash Jha, respectively.
Calling the arrest made by Kharghar Police “illegal”, the plea sought an enquiry by an “independent agency”, pleading that Jha had merely accompanied the client to different places for court hearings and that charges against him were “false”.
In the FIR, the complainant had said the accused and his accomplices had forcibly taken him to various locations in the state, including Karjat, Murbad and Nashik.
The petitioner said he was arrested on April 3 and produced before the magistrate on April 5, beyond stipulated 24-hour limitation as per Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which was illegal.
The pleas further said Jha was handcuffed and paraded in the court in violation of norms, which stipulate that no accused shall be handcuffed unless magistrate’s order is obtained.
The bench on May 17, while questioning its conduct in the arrest of the lawyer, had directed the police to file a detailed affidavit before May 19 on the status of probe and details pertaining to the arrest of the accused.
Shatrughna Mali, Senior Police Inspector of Kharghar Police station in the affidavit, said the Deputy Commissioner of Police will carry out the necessary enquiry regarding handcuffing of petitioner and tendered “unconditional apology”, saying that “Supreme Court guidelines might not have been complied with by subordinate officials while arresting accused” and submitted proper enquiry be held.
The court suggested to Chief Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare that an independent enquiry was required in all allegations, to which he said that the state had no objection to the same “in the interest of justice”.
The bench then appointed R M Joshi, Principal and District Judge, Thane to enquire into allegations and asked when installing of CCTV cameras commenced and completed at Kharghar police station and submit a report before next hearing.
The court also transferred the probe into the FIR to the state CID and asked the Deputy Commi-ssioner of Police, state CID to monitor the investigation fortnightly and asked the investigating officer to submit a report to DCP.
The High Court will hear the plea next on June 15.
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