The Amravati District & Sessions Court (Maharashtra) on Thursday (15th October) sentenced Maharashtra's Women & Child Development Minister Yashomati Thakur to 3 months rigorous imprisonment in an eight-year-old case of assault on a policeman and also imposed a fine of ₹15,500.
The Sessions Judge, Amravati Urmila S. Joshi Phalke held Thakur, her driver (Sagar Suresh Khandekar) and other two persons (workers Sharad Kashirav Jawanjal and Raju Kisan Ingle) guilty of beating up an on-duty Constable who stopped Thakur's vehicle on a one-way lane.
Case against Yashomati Thakur
At about 4.15 p.m., one Tata Safari (Yashomati Thakur was present in the vehicle) came from Gadre square and was proceeding from Chuna Bhatti square to Gandhi square (in Amravati).
However, Chuna Bhatti square to Gandhi square was declared as one way and, therefore, the on-duty constable restrained the vehicle and told the driver of the vehicle that they cannot proceed from that road.
Thereafter, Yashomati Thakur got down from the vehicle, held the Complainant's collar and slapped him on his cheek.
She was followed by the driver (Sagar Suresh Khandekar) and other two persons (workers Sharad Kashirav Jawanjal and Raju Kisan Ingle) travelling in the said vehicle and manhandled him and assaulted him (Constable/Complainant).
Subsequently, all these persons proceeded from Chuna Bhatti square to Gandhi square in the said vehicle by violating the traffic rules.
The Complainant immediately informed about the said incident to his superior. Thereafter, he approached police station Rajapeth and lodged the report.
He alleged that when he was discharging his official duty as a police constable all the accused persons used criminal force on him and deterred him from discharging his official duty.
A case was registered under IPC sections 353 (assault on or use of criminal force against a public servant in order to deter him from discharging his duty), 332 (causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 186 (obstructing any public servant in discharge of his public functions and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) against the four.
Sessions Judge, Amravati Urmila S. Joshi Phalke examined five witnesses in the case and one of them, a cop, turned hostile during the trial.
The Court observed that during the cross-examination, it was tried to assert that the exact spot of the incident had not been brought on the record by the prosecution. Also, the barricades were not broken and therefore, the case of the prosecution falsifies.
In this context, the Court remarked,
"To ascertain exact spot of the incident it is necessary to see the spot panchanama. The spot panchanama shows that alleged spot of the incident is in front of the temple where the barricades were put. The flex was also exhibited there by the traffic police. Police have also found broken pieces of the button at that place. The informant has shown the said place as the alleged spot of the incident. The Pan stall is also shown towards the western side of the spot of the incident. The map of the spot of the incident also shows that the vehicle came from the Gadre chowk into Chuna Bhatti square and was proceeding towards north towards the Gandhi square. The alleged incident has taken place immediately where the road towards Gandhi square starts. Thus, the contention of the defence that the exact spot of the incident is not proved by the prosecution is not sustainable. The police have seized broken shirt button article 1 from the said spot. Said spot is exactly at the starting point of the road which proceeds towards the Gandhi square. Thus, the alleged incident has taken place when the vehicle was proceeding towards Gandhi square after passing Chuna Bhatti square." (emphasis supplied)
Further, after going through the entire evidence, it appeared to the Court that evidence of informant P.W.1 (Ulhas Raurale/Complainant/Constable) supported by P.W.2 on material particulars, though, P.W.2 declared hostile, mere declaring of hostile is not sufficient to discard his evidence totally. P.W.3 has also supported regarding the presence of police constable at the spot.
The Court also observed that there was no reason as to why police constables P.W.1 and P.W.2 should be speaking against the accused persons. There was nothing to show that they had any enmity or grudge against the accused persons. They had immediately lodged the FIR.
The Court noted that though P.W.2 left loyalty towards prosecution to the extent of the presence of accused no.1. Admittedly, accused no.1 was MLA and that may be a reason for him not to depose against her. But during the cross-examination by learned APP, he admitted Yashomati Thakur's presence.
In this context, the Court opined
"Thus, entire evidence on record is sufficient to show that when P.W.1 was discharging his official duty as a public servant criminal force was used on him by accused no.1 and other accused persons also shared the common intention and deterred him from discharging his official duty as a public servant. Thus, prosecution has proved the charges against the accused persons u/s 353, 332, 186 r/w 34 of IPC. As accused are already held guilty for the offence punishable u/s 353, 332 and 186 r/w section 34 of IPC, no separate punishment is to be awarded for the offence punishable u/s 119 r/w section 117 of IPC." (emphasis supplied)
Importantly the Court opined,
"Accused no.1 is a public figure, representative of the public. People elected her. She is also an advocate by profession. She is aware of the legal provisions and the law. The P.W.1 police constable was discharging his official duty. He restrained the vehicle as the road towards the Gandhi chowk was one way. In this situation it was the duty of accused no.1 to follow the rules and regulations." (emphasis supplied)
Further, the Court also said,
"It will be the duty of every citizen to respect and citizens cannot be allowed to aggravate the situation by using criminal force against a police constable, who is discharging his official duty to ensure that law and order is maintained."
The Sessions Judge, Amravati Urmila S. Joshi Phalke also directed the city police commissioner to take action against the cop who turned hostile (PW 2).