The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the State government to reply to the contentions raised in a PIL filed by a lawyer regarding cases of police brutality that have taken place in Mumbai during the lockdown that was imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik heard a PIL filed by Firdaus Irani, an advocate and activist who alleged that a group of men in plain clothes along with some policemen and MCGM officials assaulted him, his wife and his two sons outside their residence in Goregaon.
Irani contended that on April 16, 2020, he arrived outside his residence along with his wife and saw that a group of men in plain clothes along with uniformed policemen and MCGM officials were shooing away hawkers and when he started to walk towards his house with his wife, a man in plain clothes armed with lathi in hand charged at him hurling abuses. Soon 10 others joined him and started threatening the petitioner. His two sons came to his defence but they were outnumbered, and consequently the petitioner, his wife and two sons were beaten up in the courtyard of the house.
The petitioner tried to file a police complaint immediately after the incident but instead a notice under Section 41 A(1) of CrPC was issued to him for allegedly committing offences under Sections 188, 269 and 34 of IPC.
Moreover, it was alleged that police officials had terrorized local residents in the Goregaon area and took hefty bribes (between 5000 and 25000) from shopkeepers for keeping their shops open throughout the day and illegal, unauthorized hawkers were also allowed to sell goods with impunity.
"The root cause responsible for rise in these rogue elements within the police machinery can be clearly pointed to the toothless implementation of the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in the case of Parkash Singh & Ors v. Union of India & Ors", the PIL states.
The petitioner also pointed to a report by a human rights organisation stating that a total of 15 persons died across the country due to police brutalities committed during the lockdown, and two such cases are from Mumbai.
Assistant Government Pleader Jyoti Chavan appeared for the state government and opposed the prayers in the PIL and submitted that these were one-off incidents and that police authorities are performing their duties as per the law. State sought time to file a reply in the matter and the bench allowed time till Friday, the next date of hearing.
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