April 15, 2018 2:42:02 am
GRANTING RELIEF to an Israeli national, the Bombay High Court has recently quashed an FIR lodged by the Sahar police station against a 61-year-old woman who it had alleged was found in possession of a live rifle cartridge while she was on a visit to Mumbai in 2015.
In her petition, Rachelle Oseran, a trainer by profession, had stated that she brought groups of tourists to India from Israel and other parts of the world on educational trips, known as ‘Mindful India Seminars’. She had claimed she had arranged for a seminar to be held in India between March 2 and March 17, 2015 and for the same, had obtained an Indian visa for three months — from mid-January to mid-April.
Oseran has maintained that while travelling to India, she was carrying sweets, toys and clothes for the children of an orphanage in Rishikesh, where her group intended to travel as a part of the seminar, as well as for the children of people who had helped her over the years.
According to Oseran, to carry the sweets and gifts, she borrowed a bag from her friend and travel agent Hillary Weiss. The bag, Oseran has said, was earlier used by Weiss’ husband Dani Weiss, who had previously served in the Israeli Army. During his service, he had used the bag that she had borrowed, Oseran told the court.
Oseran landed with her group at the Mumbai airport on March 1, 2015. During screening, no ammunition was detected in her hand luggage at the airport. Later, as her bags again underwent screening in the domestic transfer terminal at the airport, a “5.56 mm rifle cartridge” was found by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel.
The CISF interrogated Oseran and then handed her over to the Sahar police station on March 2, 2015. She was booked under sections 3 (licence for acquisition and possession of firearms and ammunition) and 25 (punishment for certain offences) of the Indian Arms Act-1959.
Oseran told the court that Sahar police ignored her explanation, impounded her passport and arrested her. She was granted bail by an Andheri magistrate court on March 5, 2015 and a year later, a chargesheet was filed against her.
Quashing the FIR, a Division Bench of Justice R M Savant and Justice Sarang V Kotwal said: “This is a case wherein the petitioner (Oseran) cannot be said to have consciously possessed the cartridge in question and that the cartridge has remained in the bag which the petitioner was carrying without her knowledge. Admittedly no firearm or weapon has been recovered from the petitioner.”
It added that Oseran did not conceal the bullet and immediately gave her explanation when questioned.
“The chargesheet filed by the Sahar police does not disclose any incriminatory material against the petitioner,” the bench said.
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