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Jhajjar court raps police for invoking stringent anti-snatching law against man arrested over a fight

A Jhajjar court has slammed police for booking a villager, who was arrested after getting into a fight in October, under Haryana’s stringent anti-snatching law.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh | November 16, 2020 11:43:37 pm
A copy of the order was sent to the Jhajjar SP for necessary action. (Representational Image)

A Jhajjar court has slammed police for booking a villager, who was arrested after getting into a fight in October, under Haryana’s stringent anti-snatching law. Additional Sessions Judge Narender Singh observed that the investigating officer of the case “has shown clear lapses in conducting a fair and proper investigation”, while granting bail to Manoj, a resident of Dighal village.

“It reflects that the story of the prosecution is not completely true and as such, it gives more credence to the argument of learned counsel for applicant-accused (Manoj) that at the most, it was a case of fight and infliction of injuries, but dishonestly, section 379-B of the IPC was invoked,” observed the judge in his recent order.

A copy of the order was sent to the Jhajjar SP for necessary action, with the court referring to the police file which shows that the investigating officer did not maintain or prepare a proper record as per the rules.

In 2015, Haryana had become the first state in the country to introduce a stringent anti-snatching law, making a provision of upto 10 years’ imprisonment. Then the state government defined snatching as a non-bailable crime by adding new clauses 379A and 379B to curb incidents of snatching. Trial of snatching cases was also handed over to the sessions’ courts instead of judicial magistrate courts.

Manoj was arrested on October 9, three days after the alleged incident. Police had registered an FIR against him under section 379 B read with section 34 of the IPC and 25 of the Arms Act, 1959, at Dujana police station of Jhajjar district on October 6.

The FIR was lodged on the complaint of a Rohtak resident, Aman Kumar. The alleged incident took place when Aman was going to Rohtak from his native village Dighal in a car, at around 1.45 am.

Aman saw a Ritz car parked near his village. Suddenly, a boy alighted from the car and stopped him. Aman also alighted from his car, and the boy allegedly started fighting with him. Thereafter, a Swift Dzire car arrived and three-four boys came out of it. They allegedly hit Aman with wooden cudgels (bittas) and rod and snatched his licensed pistol, five cartridges, gold chain, mobile phone and Rs 1.87 lakh. “Aman somehow told his maternal uncle that they (accused) were beating him. Accused also put him in the boot of his car. In the meantime, his friend Paras came and the accused ran away with the snatched items,” claimed the prosecution.

Seeking bail for Manoj, his counsel argued that the incident had taken place at 1.45 am October 6 while the FIR was lodged at 8.22 pm, over 18 hours after the incident. The counsel claimed the FIR was lodged as an “afterthought”.
“The wife of Manoj was hospitalised and had given birth and he was returning from the hospital. After parking his car on the road, Manoj was having liquor and the complainant (Aman) had merely asked him to give them way for the car, and as such, he could not have even thought of committing any such offence,” argued Manoj’s lawyer.

The judge observed, “As per prosecution’s version, the occurrence initiated with the fact that one of the accused alighted from his car and started fighting with the injured (Aman)…also…accused gave beatings to the injured. The same is also substantiated by the MLR (medico-legal report) which shows that the injured received 13 injuries and ran away only when the friend of the injured had reached there. That being so, the element of suddenness and quickness in the process of snatching something which is quintessential for attracting Section 379-B of IPC, 1860, is missing. Also missing is the element of running away or escaping from the spot immediately after the so-called snatching. Resultantly, it appears to be a case of dishonest invoking of the above-said section. Even if it is a case of ignorance about legal provisions, the supervision and superintendence over the investigation is questionable. Both the propositions pointed out above are unfortunate.”

“Furthermore, it has been reflected in the FIR that the accused snatched all the items from the injured and then, the maternal uncle of injured called the injured and, injured replied. One fails to understand that when the phone and cash etc. of the injured had already been snatched by the accused then, how injured could talk to his maternal uncle from his own phone and how all of a sudden his friend came there. It…strengthens the argument of learned counsel for applicant-accused (Manoj) that the delayed lodging of FIR had resulted in introducing…false version in the case,” added the judge.

“The earlier version of the complainant shows that he was being beaten…His M.L.R. placed on file shows 13 injuries being inflicted upon him. Perusal of police zimni shows that the boot of the car of the complainant had blood stains as injured was stashed in the boot of his car. The injured also allegedly handed over the blood-stained shirt to the investigating officer but no section pertaining to infliction of injuries has been attributed, whereas, the version of prosecution itself starts with the fact that one of the accused started fighting with the injured and remaining accused also joined him and inflicted injuries. It reflects that the story of the prosecution is not completely true and as such, it gives more credence to the argument of learned counsel for applicant-accused that at the most, it was a case of fight and infliction of injuries but dishonestly Section 379-B of IPC, was invoked.”

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