The Bombay High Court recently imposed a stipulation for bail of four youths accused of attacking police officers on Covid-19 duty, to deposit Rs.5000 towards the Chief Minister's relief fund immediately after release.
Justice Bharati Dangre was hearing the bail application filed by Gaus Mohammed Shaikh and three others against whom an FIR was registered with Shivaji Nagar Police Station, Mumbai under sections 307, 353, 332, 141, 143, 144, 145, 147, 148, 188, 269 of the IPC and Sections 3(2)(e) of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Section 37(1) read with Section 135 of the Maharashtra Police Act.
According to the prosecution, on April 26, 2020 when a team of Police officers was engaged in a road march in Govandi area, in order to take an overall view of the restrictions imposed in the wake of Covid-19 and its implementation, a mob of about 25 to 30 persons in an aggressive mood attacked the police personnel when they insisted on removal of the hawkers squatted on the footpaths with their wares.
APP HJ Dedhia submitted that the mob vandalized with the aim of impairing the police personnel from discharging their lawful duty. The mob struck by pelting stones and bricks on the police and police vehicles and this resulted in the destruction of one of the police vans, Dedhia said.
Court noted that the FIR identifies certain persons who instigated the mob and one person named Nadeem Ismail Shaikh has been named as the one who pelted stones at the police mob. The other persons who threw the mask as well as assaulted by iron rod has been described to be a person aged between 22 to 25 years with certain physical descriptions.
Applicant's lawyer Jigar Agarwal submitted that his clients have been arrested only because they fall in the age category of 22-25 years and are residents of the said locality.
Referring to the APP's stand that the entire conduct of the mob was shameful and they attempted to assault the police personnel who were engaged in their official duty, Court observed-
"No doubt, the incident is unfortunate in the present scenario and the fact that several such incidences and occurrences are being reported in the entire country cannot be lost sight of. However, the arrest of the present applicants merely on the basis of an age description of the accused approximately between 22 to 25 years and no identification parade or any concrete evidence being collected by Investigating Agency to establish that the applicants are the accused who participated in the incident of assaulting the police personnel and the police vehicle makes them entitle for the benefit of doubt."
APP informed the bench that two of the present applicants had tested positive for Covid-19, were admitted in the hospital and after appropriate medical treatment have now tested negative.
Allowing the bail application, Court set the bail at Rs.10,000 each and added an extra stipulation-
"Though the applicants are entitled for the benefit of doubt, the alleged act of the policemen being attacked apparently while trying to enforce the corona virus induced lock-down needs to be tackled on a serious note.
The applicants should be made to bear the consequences of assaulting the police team and causing interruption in discharge of their official duty. The applicants, however, cannot be incarcerated in infinity since they have been arrested on 26th April 2020 and are behind bars almost for a period of more than one month and this is a sufficient punishment for them to be responsible citizens. They are entitled to release on bail with a stipulation that they must deposit an amount of Rs.5,000/- in the Chief Minister's Fund on their immediate release, which would contribute towards the measures taken by the State for treatment of Covid-19 patients. Failure to do so would result in recalling the said order releasing them on bail."
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