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Intent was to challenge law and order, recommend dissolution of govt: Mumbai Police opposes bail pleas of Navneet, Ravi Rana

The police said that the Rana couple’s interviews with the media between April 20 to April 23 ‘crossed limits of fair criticism permitted by law in a democratic country’ and are within the ambit of section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
April 29, 2022 3:54:33 pm
The couple was arrested last Saturday and produced before a holiday court on Sunday which sent them to judicial custody till May 6. (Express Photo/File)

The Mumbai police Friday, opposing the bail of Independent MP Navneet Rana and her husband MLA Ravi Rana, claimed that their announcement to recite Hanuman Chalisa in front of the private residence of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was with an intention to challenge law and order in the state to an extent where dissolution of the present government by the Governor of Maharashtra could be recommended.

The police have also said that the couple’s interviews with the media between April 20 to April 23, the day they were arrested, ‘crossed limits of fair criticism permitted by law in a democratic country’ and are within the ambit of section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code since they intended to create public disorder.

The police on Friday filed a reply to the bail plea moved by the couple earlier this week through special public prosecutor Pradip Gharat. The plea is scheduled for a hearing on Saturday afternoon. The couple was arrested last Saturday and produced before a holiday court on Sunday which sent them to judicial custody till May 6.

The police claimed that the couple had in their defence pleaded innocence by stating that chanting Hanuman Chalisa is an act of prayer of God and that it has been made into an offence by the regime of the present government.

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“How innocent these pleadings may look like, the respondent (Mumbai police) says that these submissions are most hypocritical since the plan to read “Hanuman Chalisa” at the private residence of the Hon’ble Chief Minister at Matoshree bungalow is a big plot to create a challenge to the law and order situation and to the maintenance of law and order by the government established by the rule of law to such an extent that the collapse of law and order can be pleaded and the recommendation can be made for dissolution of the present government by the Governor of Maharashtra,” the reply stated.

The reply also referred to opposition BJP leaders stating that as they were deprived from power after the formation of the MVA government by the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, they are strongly opposing administrative policies of the government and criticising Sena for its stands on Hindutva. It states that witnesses have said that other political parties and Independent political leaders are raising these issues to allege that the CM is against Hindutva to cause dissatisfaction against the government.

The plea also stated that Matoshree is treated as a sacred place by staunch followers of the Sena and any challenge to it is not tolerated by Sainiks thus the announcement was intended to create breach of peace and issues of law and order. It states that an attempt was being made to show that the government is anti-Hindu and to increase hatred for other religions with an intention to cause a rift.

It stated that a person cannot enter private property of a citizen without prior permission. “It was also forgotten that one has a definite right to practise his religion in his own house, in the temples of God, or at the public places legally unless it defeats the public tranquillity,” it stated.

In their bail plea filed through lawyer Rizwan Merchant, the couple had said that the announcement to chant Hanuman Chalisa was to enlist popular support and not with the intention to incite violence. It also said that the government cannot afford to be hypersensitive and impervious to criticism. The plea also said that they had withdrawn their announcement after a notice from the police and yet they were arrested.

The Mumbai police claimed that a large group of Shiv Sainiks had gathered outside the couple’s residence in Khar after their announcement and though the couple was being politely requested to declare that they were withdrawing their challenge, they remained adamant and neglected the instructions of the police. The reply also refers to the antecedents of the couple, claiming that there are 18 criminal cases against the MLA and seven against the MP and if granted bail, they may tamper with evidence.

The couple’s petition to quash a criminal case against them filed allegedly for resisting arrest was rejected by the Bombay High Court on Monday with the court observing that those active in political and public life are expected to act more responsibly.

The hearing on their bail plea will be held on Saturday.

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