A SESSIONS court on Monday granted anticipatory bail to 15 members of the BJP booked for allegedly restraining general manager of the BEST in July, while expressing surprise at the stand taken by the Mumbai Police of giving a no-objection to their pleas. The court observed that while the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic remains, “prima facie such an act of gathering is unacceptable”.
On July 23, close to 30 members of the BJP allegedly entered the BEST office to protest over discontinuation of power supply, showed banners, shouted slogans, restrained the general manager for over three hours and clashed with police personnel. Police filed an FIR on charges including sections 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 341 (wrongful restraint), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant) and other sections pertaining to unlawful assembly of the IPC, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Epidemic Prevention Act.
Those part of the group, who sought pre-arrest bail, included MLAs Mangalprabhat Lodha, Rahul Narvekar and 13 others. Police gave its no-objection stating that the chargesheet had been filed in the case.
“The persons in the mob illegally obstructed the general manager and also manhandled police personnel. All this happened during the pandemic of Covid-19. Therefore, crime is registered against the applicants and other unknown persons under various sections… However, it is very strange when I perused last line in last paragraph of say (reply), wherein IO/PI (investigating officer) has vehemently and brazenly told that they have no objection to grant anticipatory bail to the applicants on any such terms and conditions,” the court said.
The court further added, “It is very surprising when investigation agency itself has tried to fill the shoes of administering justice when they have given no objection to grant of bail to the accused. Because it is the primary duty of police or investigation agency to investigate the matter with fair and unbiased manner. Even court also cannot interfere in this as to how to conduct the investigation. It is the liberty of the police to do their job as per law and procedure.”
The court said it was taking into consideration submissions made by the investigating officer that the probe is complete, chargesheet has been filed and, hence, concluded that custodial interrogation is not necessary.
“…it is kept in mind that when threat of the pandemic is not averted, gathering of more persons is not only cause dangerous to persons who are working as essential services like electric supply workers and police personnel, but also public at large.
Therefore, prima facie such act of gathering under pandemic is not acceptable,” the court said. Last month, another member of the group was granted pre-arrest bail.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines