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'Peaceful Agitation Citizen's Fundamental Right': Mumbai Court Acquits 5 Women Who Protested For Water Supply

Zeb Hasan
24 April 2022 5:12 AM GMT
Peaceful Agitation Citizens Fundamental Right: Mumbai Court Acquits 5 Women Who Protested For Water Supply
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A Mumbai court has recently held that peaceful agitation is the Fundamental Right of every citizen and acquitted five women accused of unlawfully assembling to protest against no water supply in their area. Metropolitan Magistrate R. S. Pajankar of 52nd Court, Kurla, Mumbai observed that in a democratic country peaceful protest is a fundamental right of the citizens "All ladies...

A Mumbai court has recently held that peaceful agitation is the Fundamental Right of every citizen and acquitted five women accused of unlawfully assembling to protest against no water supply in their area.

Metropolitan Magistrate R. S. Pajankar of 52nd Court, Kurla, Mumbai observed that in a democratic country peaceful protest is a fundamental right of the citizens

"All ladies who were agitating on the spot of incident went to their home after giving an understanding by them and on that day no action was taken against those women. In democratic country making peaceful agitation is fundamental right of citizen. The women were making agitation as there was no water supply in their area for some days. They were sent by the police to their home by giving an understanding. Therefore, there was no reason for the police to register F.I.R. against them and subsequently arrest them."

These women were allegedly protesting on Mumbai's Eastern Freeway in 2015 after their area fell short of water for days. They were detained by the police for obstructing the way and booked under unlawful assembly and wrongful restraint under the Indian Penal Code.

The Court after perusing the evidence on record decided that the state has not been able to prove either of the offenses the five ladies were booked under.

The Court noted that the witnesses prosecution examined were all interested witnesses according to whom 25 to 30 women were agitating on Eastern Free Way and obstructed public road. They also breached the order of the Police Officer and also create an unlawful assembly.

The Court took note of the testimony of the other two independent witnesses, and observed that the testimony of the independent witness is different from the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses.

The Court also asked the prosecution as to why only one woman was arrested when they had reported about 35-40 women were protesting on the given day:

"So also it has come in the evidence that, at the time of incident there were 35 to 40 women present on the spot of incident who were making agitation. However, the charge-sheet is filed only against five accused. It is strange that at the time of incident there were 35 to 40 women present on the spot of incident, however the police arrested only one accused on that day and did not arrest other women. The charge-sheet was filed only against accused No.1 and thereafter, four accused were arrested after four to five days of incident. The police did not arrest all women who were making agitation on the spot of incident and who were part of an unlawful assembly. "

In view of the above, the court was of the opinion that the witnesses produced by the prosecution were all interested witnesses, and the prosecution did not make an effort to examine the independent witnesses. This according to the court creates a doubt about genuineness on the investigation carried out by the Investigating Officer.

"Therefore, the independent witnesses were present on the spot of incident. However, the prosecution did not examine any independent witnesses. When the independent witnesses are available on the spot of incident, the rule of prudence requires the evidence of at least one independent witness. However, no single independent witness has been examined by the prosecution. Therefore, it creates doubt about genuineness on the investigation carried out by the Investigating Officer. "

In view of the above observation, the court decided in favour of the 5 women arrested and acquitted them saying there was no need to file an FIR against them.

"The evidence produced by the prosecution is not found cogent and reliable and it is insufficient to prove the guilt of the accused beyond all reasonable doubt. The prosecution failed to substantiate charge against the accused. Hence, the accused are entitled for acquittal."

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment



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