November 3, 2015 12:48:08 am
CITING several loopholes, a court in Pune on Monday rejected the state government’s application to withdraw a criminal case against Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s personal assistant Milind Narvekar. A wiretapped telephonic conversation between the two had revealed a criminal conspiracy to instigate riots during a bandh in Pune in 2010. On October 25, The Indian Express was the first to report about the application made by the state government.
The Pune police had wiretapped a conversation between the two on December 27, 2010, and released the details of the conversation two days later. During the phone conversation, Narvekar had purportedly given instructions to Gorhe to cause violence during the Pune bandh scheduled for December 28 by stone pelting, burning public transport buses and rioting while also ensuring that media covers it. At least 30 buses were damaged and burnt during the bandh the next day and several workers of Shiv Sena and other political parties were arrested.
It may be recalled that in 2010, the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance was in power in the state.
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In the second week of October this year, the state government through its special public prosecutor Prakash Suryavanshi filed an application in the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class S R Nimse. The application had cited a state government resolution allowing withdrawal of the case. It had also stated that a meeting in this regard was held at the Pune police commissioner’s office on September 21 and withdrawal of this case was approved along with some other cases. The committee was headed by police commissioner K K Pathak.
While rejecting the application, the court ruled that, “The Government Resolution (GR) is in respect to agitations by social organisations, political parties where offences are registered for breach of prohibitory orders. The present case is registered for offence punishable under section 153, 120(b) of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to criminal conspiracy for not only giving provocation with intent to cause riot. This is not an offence of breach of trust. The list of 20 cases on the first page of the application, all other cases are of breach of prohibitory orders. Only this case is of distinct nature.”
The order adds, “The letter issued by the assistant director of prosecution mentions that it decided to withdraw cases against Ganesh Mandal volunteers. But the present case is not against Ganesh Mandal volunteers…The application by special public prosecutor is brief. The offence of criminal conspiracy to provoke riots cannot come under purview of the GR. It seems that the committee has misconstrued the facts of the case and the intent of the GR. There are loopholes in these documents and application suffered various infirmities. It can not be accepted in its present form. Hence permission to withdraw can not be given.”
The investigators have been asking for the voice samples of Gorhe and Narvekar and they have been avoiding it citing various reasons. Their opposition to taking voice samples was struck down by JMFC, sessions court and even the High Court.
The Pune police had reportedly wiretapped the phones of the political leaders after intelligence inputs suggesting that some of them would try to instigate violence during the Shiv Sena-backed Pune bandh, which was called to oppose the removal of statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s mentor Dadoji Konddeo from the historic Lal Mahal by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
When contacted, special prosecutor Suryavanshi told The Indian Express: “The trial of the case would continue.”
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