12 Jan 2023 1:20 PM GMT
Observing that there were several procedural lapses, the Mumbai Sessions Court set aside the summons issued to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee for an alleged insult to the National Anthem during her visit to Mumbai. Special judge RN Rokade noted that the magistrate didn’t follow the mandatory provisions, and asked the magistrate to proceed with the case from the stage...
Observing that there were several procedural lapses, the Mumbai Sessions Court set aside the summons issued to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee for an alleged insult to the National Anthem during her visit to Mumbai.
Special judge RN Rokade noted that the magistrate didn’t follow the mandatory provisions, and asked the magistrate to proceed with the case from the stage of verification.
“Process issued by the Magistrate is set aside and the case is remanded back to the Magistrate,” court said.
Banerjee filed the review seeking setting aside of summons issued to her by the Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court at Sewree on February 1, 2022. The summons was issued pursuant to a private complaint by a BJP functionary.
The court had hear advocate Majeed Memon for Banerjee and State counsel Sumesh Panjwani for the Mumbai Police.
The private complaint by one Vivekanand Gupta (Secretary, BJP Mumbai), alleged that Banerjee while addressing citizens at an event sang the first two verses of the National Anthem in a seated position, and the third and fourth verse while standing up, and then abruptly left the venue. This was an insult and disrespect to the Indian National Anthem, and attracting Section 3 of the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, 1971, according to the complainant.
Section 3 relates to prevention from singing of Indian National Anthem or causing disturbance to any assembly singing the National Anthem.
While the trial court refused to order an investigation under Section 156(3) of the CrPC, it treated the application as a private complaint and took cognisance of the offence. It then issued summons to CM Banerjee.
Subsequently, the Sessions court on February 25, 2022 stayed the operation of the summons observing that arguable points were raised by Memon.
Memon submitted that a sanction was required to proceed against the CM. That aside, the complaint didn’t prima facie disclose an insult of the National Anthem, he submitted. The discussion of politics didn’t make the visit unofficial and a sanction was mandatory.
According to the revision application, the complainant without being present at the event or being acquainted with the full facts of the case made a frivolous and false complaint based on a 20-minute "sensationalised" video clip.
The plea states that the CM Banerjee met NCP leader Sharad Pawar as part of her official tour. She was also invited to civic society program organised to discuss socio-political issues in the country. “The event was of significant importance as the applicant has been spearheading efforts to unite opposition parties against the BJP ahead of the 2024 general elections in India".
Moreover, the event where the alleged incident happened at YB Chavan Centre was part of her official tour and she was there as the Chief Guest of West Bengal, according to the revision application. The Chief Secretary of West Bengal was also present, therefore a sanction was mandatory.
Public Prosecutor Sumesh Panjwani for the State relied on the official letter written by the Under Secretary Govt. of West Bengal to the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra to show that the event at YB Chavan was categorised as a meeting with “cultural personalities” and therefore not a meeting in the official discharge of her duties. He called the visit a political one and not an official one.