The Sessions court in Mumbai has granted anticipatory bail to Republic TV anchor and reporter Pradeep Bhandari who was booked under provisions of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly paying off some 15-20 people for shouting slogans outside Kangana Ranaut's bungalow turned office in Pali Hill, Bandra in order to prevent policemen from discharging their duties.
Additional sessions judge RM Sadrani allowed the anticipatory bail application filed by Bhandari, who was booked under IPC sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty ), 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by a public servant) and other provisions of the Bombay Police Act. While allowing the application, the Court observed that paying money to the public for announcing slogans is not the offence in the present case.
According to the prosecution, Bhandari had paid a group of around 15 to 20 persons to raise slogans outside Kangana Ranaut's property which was being demolished by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. These people had allegedly shouted slogans and tried to prevent policemen from discharging their duties.
Appearing on behalf of Bhandari, Senior Advocate Aabad Ponda submitted that offence under Section 353 of the IPC is not made out and referring to the complaint filed against Bhandari, he submitted that his client had only used abusive language and no case of assault was made out.
Arguing that the complaint was filed after a delay of five days, Ponda submitted that if his client had used force in any form he would have been arrested immediately as a large number of policemen were already present there.
Court observed that the contents of the FIR make it clear that there is no mention of force or assault against any public officer to prevent him discharging his duty and the assault charge u/S.353 was added a week after the FIR was filed. Thus, Court said-
"Therefore, it is clear that when the FIR was lodged, the public servant was not aware that he was deterred or prevented from discharging his public duty".
Court also noted that paying people money to shout slogans is not the offence that the accused has been booked under.
Thus, Court allowed the pre arrest bail application and directed that in the event of an arrest, Bhandari be released on a personal bond of Rs.15,000 and a surety of the same amount and that the Khar police station be informed accordingly. Bhandari has also been directed to furnish his detailed address and contact number to the investigating officer and attend the police station when summoned