Stating that there was no allegation that she had assaulted or caused injury to any police personnel, a sessions court last week granted anticipatory bail to 25-year-old student and activist Suvarna Salve in a case filed by the Mumbai police in March.
The FIR filed against Salve was under sections including 353 of IPC, which pertains to assault or criminal force used to deter public servant from discharging his duty. The police had also claimed that she had written posts on Facebook criticising the administration including the police and the civic body. The court, however, said it did not prove any allegations made in the FIR.
According to the prosecution, the FIR pertained to an incident on March 31, during the nationwide lockdown when a building in L Ward of Kurla was seized after a person had tested positive for Covid-19. As per existing rules then, the building was declared a containment zone and residents were not allowed to step out.
Salve, through her lawyer Ishrat A Khan, claimed that the residents were at the mercy of the competent authorities for food and other basic requirements in the containment zone. She said that after a person died in the building, she had merely gone to the police on-duty and requested that family members be allowed to perform the last rites.
The prosecution claimed before the court that Salve had argued with the police regarding the restrictions.
The police had also submitted that Salve was involved in holding protests and dharnas in the city, which Khan claimed had nothing to do with the case. The police also claimed that rumours were spread through her Facebook posts, to which Khan said the police had not invoked relevant sections of the Information Technology Act.
“Considering the allegation regarding her writing on Facebook, there is no material to support the said allegation,” the court said.
Khan had also submitted that while the prosecution itself said that an argument took place, she was booked under the stringent section with an allegation that she had assaulted the police and a false case was filed against her when she raised this grievance with the authorities. She submitted that she comes from a poor family and had only raised her voice to seek arrangement of food for the residents in the containment zones.
The court held that her custodial interrogation was not required and if conditions are imposed on her pre-arrest bail including seeking her cooperation with the probe, the investigation can be conducted.
The other sections against Salve include charges pertaining to spread of the disease and lockdown violations.
Last month, the police had issued a notice seeking surety of Rs 50 lakh from Salve, a BA student and a member of cultural group Samata Kala Manch, after she participated in a protest in January in Mumbai against the attack on students inside the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus.
The police had also sought to initiate chapter proceedings against her classifying her as a ‘habitual offender’, which she had said was a way to discourage her from participating in activism.
The proceedings, which she has opposed, are pending hearing.
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