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"Better Choice Of Words Expected From Responsible Persons": Bombay High Court Tells BJP MLA Ashish Shelar Over Remarks Against Mumbai Mayor

Sharmeen Hakim
13 Jan 2022 2:09 PM GMT
Better Choice Of Words Expected From Responsible Persons: Bombay High Court Tells BJP MLA Ashish Shelar Over Remarks Against Mumbai Mayor
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Court issued notice on Shelar's plea to quash the FIR, and suggested the parties to resolve the issues amicably.

The Bombay High Court on Thursday issued notice to Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar seeking her response to BJP MLA Ashish Shelar's plea to quash Mumbai Police's FIR against him for allegedly outraging modesty during a press conference on November 30, 2021. A division bench of Justices Prasanna Varale and AS Kilor observed that since Shelar and Pednekar come from respectable...

The Bombay High Court on Thursday issued notice to Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar seeking her response to BJP MLA Ashish Shelar's plea to quash Mumbai Police's FIR against him for allegedly outraging modesty during a press conference on November 30, 2021.

A division bench of Justices Prasanna Varale and AS Kilor observed that since Shelar and Pednekar come from respectable backgrounds and hold responsible positions, they could try and work out a settlement.

The bench further noted that Shelar could have chosen his words more wisely.

The case relates to a press conference Shelar held after four people lost their lives due to improper medication and lack of facilities made available to them following a gas cylinder explosion at BDD chawl in Worli. Shelar came down heavily for the BMC's delayed response to the incident.

Shelar has sought quashing of the FIR registered at the Marine Drive Police Station for offences under sections 354(A)(iv) & 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and a stay on any coercive action against him in the interim.

During the hearing on Thursday, Advocate Rizwan Merchant for Shelar informed the court that his comment was not directed just at Pednekar but the entire BMC machinery. He allegedly asked, "Where were you (the mayor) sleeping for these many hours?" on Pednekar arriving 72 hours after the incident.

To this Justice Varale said, "Such incidents do occur in public life, we are aware. But responsible persons are expected to choose words wisely."

"Both parties are responsible people. Both occupy important positions in public life. One is an elected representative, the Respondent (Pednekar) represents the entire city's citizens. So why don't you try to work it out amicably?" the court asked.

Merchant said that notice may be issued, and once Pednekar is represented, the court can suggest settlement to her counsel as it would not be correct for him to approach the mayor directly.

The court then issued a notice to Pednekar, returnable after two weeks. The prosecution undertook not to take coercive action against Shelar or file the charge sheet in the case till then.

Background

In a plea under Article 226 of the Constitution and Section 482 of the CrPC, Shelar has argued that the FIR is nothing but a result of brainstorming and imagination of the Maha Vikas Aghadi Government to falsely implicate him. He claimed that a simple Marathi word at the press conference following a gas cylinder explosion was being blown out of proportion.

"If the said press conference is seen and heard, it can be easily deduced and comprehended that the said statements were made for the BMC authorities as an organization and not towards the Original Complainant/Respondent No.2 in person or as a woman/girl," the petition states.

The Mayor took exception to the mention of the word sleeping and wrote to home minister Dilip Walse Patil, that the remark had not only insulted her but other women as well. An FIR was then registered at the police station.

Shelar claimed that he merely voiced his angst over the said incident saying that despite of such a major incident, patients taken to the municipal hospital do not feel safe there, nor do they receive timely medication. "It is shocking that a 4 months old infant lost his tender life due to the gross negligence of the BMC officials, the authorities and staff of Nair Hospital."

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