Updated: January 28, 2022 2:29:30 am
The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted 10 days’ protection from arrest to BJP leader Nitesh Rane in connection with a case registered against him in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district last month.
Granting him protection, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana asked him to surrender before the trial court and seek regular bail.
Appearing for Rane, who is the son of Union Cabinet Minister Narayan Rane, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi submitted that it is a “cooked-up case”.
“A completely cooked-up case on the eve of an election to the District Cooperative Bank. I am a sitting MLA. The complainant is a person belonging to the opposite party. The allegation is that the complainant was stabbed by a paper cutter,” Rohatgi told the bench also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli.
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“A paper cutter!” Rohatgi exclaimed, adding the Bombay High Court had refused to give him anticipatory bail saying he is facing five criminal cases. “High Court did not realise that all those cases are for political agitations. Agitation for water, fishermen, for highway construction…”, the senior counsel said.
“It has been held that there is a deep-rooted conspiracy in this case…The conspiracy is to kill this man with a paper cutter at 11 am in public! Here I’m being charged with murder,” he said.
The CJI queried, “Why don’t you surrender and go in for regular bail?”
Turning to Senior Advocate A M Singhvi, who appeared for the state of Maharashtra, the CJI asked “What is all this? Political virus again?”
Singhvi said Rane should seek regular bail. He contended that Rane met the conspirators in a van and showed the photo of the victim. There have been recoveries, he said, adding that the paper cutter had caused detailed wounds. There were also call records showing the accused were in contact, he submitted.
“Custody is required for recovery and for interrogation about the conspiracy, money exchanged etc.,” said Singhvi.
Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra said the victim was roaming around a day after he is said to have suffered the injuries. He also added that there was no telephonic connection between Rane and the assailant.
Singhvi said he had read out from the FIR and that all sides were being probed.
The case against Nitesh relates to an alleged road rage incident on December 18 last year. The complainant, 44-year-old Santosh Parab, a Shiv Sena functionary, claimed an Innova car without a number plate hit his bike. Parab alleged that he was assaulted by the car occupants and heard one of them tell another person that they “should inform Gotya Sawant and Nitesh Rane”.
Nitesh moved the Bombay High Court after a Sindhudurg special judge on December 30, 2021 rejected his pre-arrest bail plea, in which he claimed he had been booked “out of political rivalry”.
Nitesh told the HC that the FIR had been registered for preventing his participation in the Sindhudurg District Co-operative Bank elections, which were to be held on December 30, 2021.
The High Court also rejected the anticipatory bail plea of co-accused Sandesh alias Gotya Sawant. However, it allowed pre-arrest bail to another accused, Manish Dalvi.
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