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"Case Manufactured To Detain Him For A Longer Period": Assam Court Grants Bail To Jignesh Mevani In Policewoman Assault Case

Sparsh Upadhyay
29 April 2022 3:31 PM GMT
Case Manufactured To Detain Him For A Longer Period: Assam Court Grants Bail To Jignesh Mevani In Policewoman Assault Case
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A local Court in Assam today granted bail to Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani in the case of alleged assault on a policewoman after noting that the instant case was manufactured for the purpose of keeping Mevani in detention for a longer period, abusing the process of the court and the law.In a significant move, the Sessions Judge, Barpeta A. Chakravarty also requested the Gauhati High Court...

A local Court in Assam today granted bail to Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani in the case of alleged assault on a policewoman after noting that the instant case was manufactured for the purpose of keeping Mevani in detention for a longer period, abusing the process of the court and the law.

In a significant move, the Sessions Judge, Barpeta A. Chakravarty also requested the Gauhati High Court to consider directing the Assam Police to reform itself by taking some measures like directing each and every police personnel engaged in law and order duty to wear Body Cameras, to install CCTV Cameras in vehicles while arresting an accused or taking an accused to someplace for the discovery of some articles and for such other reasons and also to install CCTV Cameras inside all the police stations.

The Court requested the HC thus, as it noted that the version of the policewoman in the instant case wasn't trustworthy and rather it was an attempt to keep the accused in detention for a longer time.

"Otherwise, our State will become a Police State, which the society can ill afford. Even opinion is growing in the world for providing next generation human rights to the people in the democratic countries like, right to recall an elected representative, right to destabilise an elected government, etc. therefore, converting our hard earned democracy into a Police State is simply unthinkable and if the Assam Police is thinking about the same, the same is peruerse thinking," the Court observed as it requested the Chief Justice to consider whether the matter may be taken up as a Public Interest Litigation to curb the ongoing police excesses in the State.

Case against Mevani

Mevani was arrested by the Assam Police from Gujarat on 20 April in an FIR registered on a complaint by a local BJP leader from Assam's Kokrajhar on account of making several tweets against PM Narendra Modi. 

Thereafter, he was re-arrested in the instant case for allegedly assaulting officials. The second arrest was made after Mevani was granted bail in the case related to tweets against Prime Minister.

The Policewoman alleged in the FIR that while she was escorting Mevani from LGB Airport, Guwahati to Kokrajhar in a government vehicle, Mevani uttered slang words against her. Allegedly, Mevani pointed his fingers toward her and tried to frighten her, and pushed her down into her seat with force.

It was therefore alleged that Mevani assaulted the first informant while she was discharging her duties as a public servant and outraged her modesty by touching her inappropriately while pushing her down.

After reaching Kokrajhar, the first informant informed them about the incident to her senior officers, however, her seniors did not register an FIR, which, the Court noted, was a clear violation of the provisions of Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Thereafter, the Barpeta Road Police registered the FIR under Sections 294, 323, 353, and 354 of IPC. The Court termed it as a second FIR as it noted that the first FIR would be the narration of facts by her before her seniors. Now, challenging this 'Second' FIR, Mevani had moved to the Court.

Court's observations

At the outset, the Court noted that the word 'slang' used in the FIR cannot be held to be an obscene act within the meaning of the obscene act as per Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code. The Court also opined that since the moving government vehicle isn't a public place, therefore, 294 IPC won't be attracted in the instant case.

Further, the Court said that pointing of fingers at the first informant with intent to frighten her and pushing her down into her seat with force cannot be held to be using of criminal force by the accused with intent to prevent the policewoman from discharging her duties as a public servant. Therefore, the Court remarked that the commission of the offence under Section 353 I.P.C., prima facie, was also not established.

The Court also said that no sane person will ever try to outrage the modesty of a lady Police Officer in presence of two male police officers, and therefore, Section 354 IPC also can't be applied against Mevani.

Regarding the offence under 323 IPC, the Court said even if Mevani had pushed down the first informant into her seat and thereby, caused bodily pain to her, this is a bailable offence.

Importantly, the Court observed that contrary to the FIR, the victim policewoman has deposed a different story before the learned Magistrate. In view of this, the Court remarked thus:

"It seems, the victim woman was seating next to the accused person and as the vehicle was moving, the body of the accused must have touched the body of the victim woman and she felt that the accused was pushing her. But, the victim woman did not depose that the accused used his hands and outraged her modesty. She also did not depose that the accused uttered obscene words at her. she has deposed that the accused abused her in his language. But, she definitely did not understand the language of the accused. otherwise, she would have mentioned the language used by the accused. In view of the above testimony of the victim woman, the instant case is manufactured for the purpose of keeping the accused Shri Jignesh Mevani in detention for a longer period, abusing the process of the court and the law."

Further, the Court also added that in fact, the Superintendent of Police, Kokrajhar should have and ought to have, directed the victim woman to lodge the FIR with the Kokrajhar Police Station. Therefore, the Court held that the case registered on the basis of the instant FIR is not maintainable as the FIR is the second FIR.

In view of the above, the bail petition was allowed. The Investigating Officer / Officer In-charge of the Barpeta Road Police Station was directed to release the accused Mevani on his furnishing Personal Recognizance Bond of Rs. 1,000/-, forthwith.

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