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Police Apologizes For Handcuffing Lawyer; Bombay High Court Asks District Judge To Probe Illegal Arrest

Sharmeen Hakim
31 May 2021 3:06 PM GMT
Police Apologizes For Handcuffing Lawyer; Bombay High Court Asks District Judge To Probe Illegal Arrest
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The Bombay High Court recently ordered an inquiry into the alleged illegal detention of a 37-year-old lawyer from Mumbai. The court also transferred the kidnapping and extortion case against the advocate from the Kharghar police station in Navi Mumbai to the Maharashtra CID. Principal District and Sessions Judge (Thane), RM Joshi, will probe if advocate Vimal Jha (37) was...

The Bombay High Court recently ordered an inquiry into the alleged illegal detention of a 37-year-old lawyer from Mumbai. The court also transferred the kidnapping and extortion case against the advocate from the Kharghar police station in Navi Mumbai to the Maharashtra CID.

Principal District and Sessions Judge (Thane), RM Joshi, will probe if advocate Vimal Jha (37) was illegally detained by the Kharghar Police from April 3 to 5, whether the Police was justified in handcuffing him to court, and if their claims regarding the unavailability of CCTV footage is valid.

A vacation bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and SP Tavade passed the common Order in the criminal PIL by the Lawyers for Just Society and another petition alleging Jha's false implication in the three crore extortion case filed against him on his client's complaint.

The inquiry was ordered with the State's consent and the observation that "it does not appear to be plausible" that Jha had voluntary spent 32 hours before his arrest in the police station.

The Kharghar police arrested advocate Jha on April 5 for offences punishable under IPC sections 323, 364A, 365, 387, 506 r/w 34.

Advocate Subhash Jha in the PIL and Prashant Pandey for Jha argued that "collusion" between Kharghar Police officials and the complaint was clear from the fact that the FIR was registered at 3.36 am on April 5, 2021, when in fact, the Jha was detained in police custody since April 3, 2021.

Moreover, he was produced before the JMFC, Panvel, in handcuffs. The Investigating Officer travelled to the court in the complainant's car, they argued. They further alleged that Kharghar Police Station police officers refused to produce the CCTV footage from April 3, 2021, to April 6, 2021, only because the same will establish Jha's illegal detention.

According to Jha's plea, Navanth Gole, who has several criminal cases against him. The two became friends, and Jha agreed to invest money in Gole's businesses and buy his premises for Rs 80 lakhs. As the deal didn't work out, Gole allegedly failed to return Jha's Rs. 50 lakh.

Pandey argued that he accompanied Gole and his friends first to a farmhouse in Karjat and from there to Murbad and after that to a Hotel called Peru-Chi-Baug at Nashik, but Jha left after he didn't get the money.

In a "well-orchestrated conspiracy," Pandey said his client was called to the Kharghar Police Station on April 3 and asked for their original agreement papers between the two and detained him when he refused.

He was shown arrested on April 5, 2021 at 4.39am.

In an affidavit, to the court, Shatrughna D. Mali, Senior Inspector of Police, Kharghar Police Station, Navi Mumbai, cited several cases where the accused had to be handcuffed to court. But he apologized nonetheless and submitted that the DCP would conduct an inquiry. He, however, submitted that Jha voluntarily stayed at the police station for over 32 hours before his arrest and claimed that the process of CCTV being installed in the police station was ongoing between April 3- May 1, 2021; therefore CCTV couldn't be produced.

The bench then suggested/proposed to Chief PP Deepak Thakre that in view of the "serious allegations" against the police officials of Kharghar Police Station, an independent inquiry may be conducted. The State accepted the court's suggestions.

'A Lawyer Is Behind Bars; Serious Matter' : Bombay High Court Raps Police Over Inconsistent Answers On Lawyer's Arrest

The bench has sought an inquiry on the following lines-

"In the circumstances, we informed Shri Thakare, Chief PP of the State that the Senior Police Inspector of the Kharghar Police Station has already submitted an apology to the Court for handcuffing the Petitioner and has also proposed an enquiry in that regard ; that the submission that the Petitioner continued to stay in the Police Station from 3rd April, 2021 upto 5th April, 2021, when he was arrested at 4.39 a.m., does not appear to be plausible and it is also difficult to accept that the installation work of CCTV and DVR started on 1st April, 2021 at Kharghar Police Station and took almost a month for completion."

i. Whether the Petitioner was illegally detained at the Kharghar Police Station, Navi Mumbai from April 3, 2021 until the registration of FIR No. 137 of 2021 at 3.36 a.m. on April 5, 2021 and his consequent arrest on April 5, 2021 at 4.39 a.m.

ii. Whether the Kharghar Police Station, Navi Mumbai was justified, in accordance with the guidelines provided by the Apex Court, in handcuffing the Petitioner on April 5, 2021, when he was produced before the JMFC, Panvel, to seek his police custody.

iii. When did the work of installing CCTV cameras commence at Kharghar Police Station, Navi Mumbai, and when was the same completed? In other words, the date from which the CCTV cameras became operational and started recording the entry and exit into Kharghar Police Station and the movement in the said Police Station ?

iv. The Police Personnel of Kharghar Police Station, Navi Mumbai, shall render all assistance to Shri Joshi, including producing before him all the relevant data / documents required by him to complete his inquiry.

v. Shri Joshi is requested to complete the inquiry without being influenced by any observation made in this Order and submit his Inquiry Report to this court on the adjourned date. Stand over to June 15, 2021.

[Lawyers For Just Society v/s The State of Maharashtra & Ors.]

Click Here To Download/Read Order


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