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No coercive action against Rane till September 17 in FIR over slap remark: Maharashtra govt to Bombay HC

Complaints filed for harassment, police acting under pressure from ruling party, Rane tells HC

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: August 25, 2021 11:36:33 pm
Union Minister for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises Narayan Rane. (File Photo: PTI)

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that no coercive action will be taken till September 17 against Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP Narayan Rane in the FIR filed by the Nashik Cyber Police over his remark against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Rane, who was arrested on Tuesday and later granted bail by the Mahad magistrate court, formally filed a petition on Wednesday morning before the high court seeking to quash the FIRs.

Rane had kicked off a controversy on Monday after his statement in Raigad that he would have slapped the Maharashtra CM for “not knowing the year of India’s independence.”

His plea in the HC stated that the Nashik Police Commissioner was working under pressure from the Shiv Sena, the ruling party in the state, and that multiple FIRs were lodged against him with the only intention to “harass him by launching a false prosecution.”

On Tuesday, the division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice NJ Jamadar had refused urgent hearing on his plea and told Rane’s counsel Aniket Nikam that merely mention of plea before the court was not allowed, and that he needed to follow proper procedures to get the petition registered and listed.

Rane’s plea, registered on Wednesday morning, challenged the Nashik Cyber Police FIR under Sections 153 (B) (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 500 (criminal defamation), 505 (2) (intent to incite) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), among others.

The plea stated, “There is a possibility of many more such FIRs being registered against the petitioner in different parts of the state out of political vengeance and grudge. The crux and grievance in all the above FIRs is almost the same.”

Seeking interim protection from arrest, Rane further said that the Nashik Police has sent him a notice under Section 41A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) asking him to appear at the police station on September 2.

Rane has also challenged other FIRs registered against him in connection with his remark, along with any probable FIRs likely to be registered in future.

Senior advocate Amit Desai, representing the Maharashtra government, informed the court that no coercive action would be taken against the minister in the Nashik FIR until further orders. He further said that as Rane’s plea did not mention the details of other FIRs, he should amend the plea and sought time to take instructions on the same.

However, advocate Satish Maneshinde, representing Rane, said the prosecution was “castigated” for arresting his client on Tuesday and that a statement should be made in respect to all the FIRs that followed Rane’s remarks against Thackeray.

Desai, however, refused to make a blanket statement of protection in all FIRs and pointed out that the petition only referred to Nashik FIR.

The state government lawyer said the petitioner should also make a statement that he would not commit any offence or take advantage of the state’s assurance. “I do not want to curb freedom of speech. I am only preempting what will happen,” Desai said.

To this, Maneshinde responded, “That will curtail my freedom of speech. The magistrate has already cautioned my client yesterday (Tuesday) that he cannot commit a similar offence pending the case”.

HC will hear the plea next on September 17.

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