Updated: September 4, 2021 3:21:05 pm
Sixteen people, including students and activists booked for holding a candlelight vigil “to show solidarity” in the aftermath of Delhi riots last year, on Friday moved the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of the proceedings against them on grounds of wrong section under the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951 being invoked against them among others.
The division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice N J Jamadar, which is hearing the petition filed through lawyer Anandini Fernandes, asked the state government lawyer to respond to the plea.
The petition stated that on February 26 last year, a vigil was held at Shivaji Park in Mumbai, as a “gathering of love and peace in solidarity with people in Delhi who have been on the receiving end of mass violence”.
Sixteen of those who attended received a notice the next day informing them that an FIR has been lodged against them at Shivaji Park police station under the Maharashtra Police Act.
The petition said that the FIR was filed on the ground that the group had violated an order issued by the DCP (Operations) and executive magistrate of Greater Mumbai under sections 37 (3) and 135 of the Act.
The lawyer told the bench that while the two sections only attracted a fine of up to Rs 2,500, the chargesheet was filed subsequently against the 16 under sub-section 37 (1) that came with minimum imprisonment of four months and maximum imprisonment of one year.
“How can you invoke something not in the order? You have to read the provision under which the order was issued,” the court said, asking the government lawyer to respond. The lawyer sought time to read the chargesheet and make a submission. The court said that it was granting time “as a last chance”.
The petition also said that the action sought under the wrong sub-section was “unwarranted, unlawful and gravely prejudicial”.
“The petitioners comprise mainly of students, senior citizens and social activists devoid of any criminal antecedents. In addition, the nature, purpose and intent of the gathering makes it prima facie apparent that there was no likelihood of the breach of peace and disturbance of public tranquility let alone any grave danger to human lives or loss of properties,” the petition stated seeking quashing of the FIR and the proceedings. It added that no case has been made out against the accused.
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