The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted ad-interim bail to a 65-year-old man who performed pooja at a religious ceremony held in Solapur, Maharashtra in presence of villagers gathered to attend the ceremony in violation of the nationwide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Court asked him to deposit Rs.10,000 to the Chief Minister's relief fund.
Justice Sadhna Jadhav was hearing the application for bail filed by Shivputra Anaray Shrigan, who was booked by Akkalkot North police Station in Solapur.
According to the prosecution, the District Magistrate, Solapur had passed a prohibitory order under section 144 of CrPC on March 2. However, on March 29, a fair of God Parmeshwar in village Wagdari was organized. Even though the police had requested the villagers not to assemble, as ordered under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the villagers reasoned that it was customary for them to gather at the temple.
The police were trying to convince the mob, however, the people present had opposed the same, raised their voices and had pelted stones at the police.
On March 30, a police inspector lodged a report at the police station for offences punishable under Sections 353, 332, 333, 143, 147, 149, 186, 188, 269, 270, 504, 506 of the Indian Penal Code and under section 37(1) (3) read with section 135 and 139 of the Maharashtra Police Act and section 2, 3 and 4 of Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 read with Rule 11 of Maharashtra COVID-19 Rules. Some of the accused were arrested by Akkalkot North Police Station.
According to the applicant's lawyer Vikrant Phatate, his client was summoned by the Panch Committee for performing pooja of the Chariot carrying the God and the applicant had obliged the panch committee of the temple.
Justice Jadhav noted-
"That prima facie there is no material to show that the applicant had quarreled with the police or had pelted stone at the police. Prima facie, there is no material to indicate that custodial interrogation is warranted. Taking into consideration the age of the applicant as well as the fact that no overt act is attributed to the applicant, the applicant deserves ad-interim relief on imposing certain conditions."
Thus, granting ad-interim relief, the Court ruled that bail can be granted in the event of arrest after furnishing a bond of Rs.15,000 and depositing a cost of Rs. 10,000 towards the Chief Minister's Relief Fund within 8 weeks.
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