While granting bail to a 55-year-old man, the Bombay High Court Tuesday directed him to pay Rs 10,000 to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund after he was booked for causing obstruction to government servants visiting his residential colony for collecting data in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A single-judge bench of Justice Bharati Dangre heard the bail plea through video-conference.
The man, secretary of a residential society in Mira Road, was booked for getting into a heated argument with officials on Covid-19 duty and obstructing a squad of health staff and ASHA workers by persuading colony members to not share information with them.
Naya Nagar Police Station on Mira Road charged the man on March 31 under sections 353 (punishment for assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 188 ( punishment for disobeying order promulgated by public servant), 269 (punishment for negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the Indian Penal Code ( IPC) and section 51 (B) of the Disaster Management Act providing punishment for refusing to comply with the government orders.
The FIR stated that when the team of government officials designated to collect data on Covid-19 visited the society, the applicant, who was present in the society premises, obstructed their work and persuaded society members not to share any information.
The bench observed, “There were also certain allegations levelled by the applicant that the information is likely to be misused by the agency and he persuaded the members of the society not to share the information.”
The court noted that the heated argument took place on the spot and based on the ‘unfortunate act on the part of applicant’, offences were registered against him by Naya Nagar Police Station.
The applicant’s counsel, advocate Siddhesh Samel, said that the offences registered against his client were invalid and arbitrary and sought the man to be released on bail. Public prosecutor Deepak Thakare opposed the plea and justified the police action.
After hearing submissions and examining material on record, Justice Dangre observed that the FIR did not disclose offences under section 353 of IPC being made out which contemplate use of assault or criminal force to deter the public servants from discharging their duty.
“Prima facie, reading of the FIR do not make out any ingredients of Section 353 of the IPC which has been invoked and applied against the applicant,” the bench noted in the order.
The court further said that other offences being bailable, the application seeking bail deserves to be allowed, subject to conditions. So the high court directed the applicant man to be released on bail with a caveat and observed, “The applicant had behaved in an irresponsible manner and particularly at a time when every citizen of this country is expected to co-operate with those rendering useful services to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”
Justice Dangre directed the man to deposit an amount of Rs 10,000 in the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund after his release and receipt of its deposit be placed on record within four weeks from Tuesday.
Disposing of the plea, the court said that failure to deposit the amount would entail consequences of recalling the bail order.