22 March 2023 8:52 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to a law intern from Indore who has been under custody since January 28. The petitioner named Sonu Mansoori had approached the Court alleging that she was heckled and attacked by a group in Indore court premises and the police, instead of taking action against the miscreants, arrested her.On Wednesday, Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj,...
The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to a law intern from Indore who has been under custody since January 28. The petitioner named Sonu Mansoori had approached the Court alleging that she was heckled and attacked by a group in Indore court premises and the police, instead of taking action against the miscreants, arrested her.
On Wednesday, Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, appearing for the State of Madhya Pradesh, conceded that Mansoori can be released on bail. “Although her bail application has been rejected, I don't want to stand in the way. Kindly enlarge her on bail", ASG said.
“Ld. ASG does not pose a serious objection to the bail application. Petitioner No. 2 shall be released on bail forthwith on releasing personal bond of Rs. 5000 to the satisfaction of the Court. The order shall be communicated to the Registrar of the High Court", ordered the bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi. Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, who represented the petitioners, said that the ASG has taken a "very fair" stand.
Mansoori and her senior lawyer Noorjahan, both belonging to Muslim community, approached the Apex Court under Article 32 alleging that the case against them is communally motivated.
On the allegations regarding attack on the petitioner lawyer, ASG Nataraj sought further time to seek instructions.
What do the petitioners allege in the petition?
The writ petition alleges that the petitioners - lawyer Noorjahan and law student Sonu Mansoori- are implicated in false, baseless, politically motivated and communally charged cases at the behest of the local organisations having affiliations to the current political dispensation in the State of Madhya Pradesh.
The petition alleges that on 28.01.2023, supporters of Bajrang Dal along with a group of lawyers associated with the Adhivakta Sangh, manhandled the law intern inside the courtroom. They accused the intern of secretly recording the bail proceedings of a Bajrang Dal leader who was accused of carrying out acts of vandalism in protest of the movie ‘Pathan’. It is mentioned in the petition that on 25.01.2023, Advocate Ehtesham Hashmi (who passed away on February 9) was heckled and threatened by certain persons in the court premises for opposing the bail application of the Bajrang Dal leader.
As per the petition, the law intern was forcibly frisked and the miscreants snatched away a large sum of money and a phone that was in her possession. The petition submits that the local police came to the spot, but instead of taking action against the malefactors took the intern to the police station and lodged FIR against her on the basis of complaint that she was working for banned organisations like the PFI and the Peace Party. The FIR mentions offences punishable under Sections 419, 420 and 120B IPC.
Subsequently, she was arrested. On 29.01.2023, when produced before the Judicial Magistrate, remand was granted till 01.02.2023. No lawyer dared to appear on behalf of the intern amidst the "communally hostile environment" created by the miscreants.
The petition submits that, as the local lawyers refused to defend her, four lawyers had to go from Delhi to file the bail application. The four Counsels sought police protection, but were denied the same. They were even prevented from attending the court hearing. The police remand was extended till 04.02.2023. When the Advocates approached the local Bar Association to inform the members about the treatment meted out to them, the members expressed their helplessness. Later, they were threatened by an unknown person and were asked to leave Indore immediately. The lawyers went to the local police station, but were not attended to by the officers. Since the police did not take any action, the lawyers were constrained to return to Delhi. Due to lack of legal representation, the intern has now been sent to judicial custody.
The petition seeks directions from the Apex Court for an independent inquiry into the incident that took place in the Indore District Courts premises. It is beseeched that a High Court Judge, either sitting or retired be entrusted with the investigation. The petition also seeks directions to the State Government to ensure safety of the petitioners. It appears that FIR has also been registered against the lawyer petitioner. Thus, the Court is implored to stay her arrest in that regard. The petition further seeks that the law intern, who has been in custody for almost two months be enlarged on bail; the FIR against her be quashed; alternatively, investigation be transferred to an independent agency, preferably one outside Madhya Pradesh.
[Case Title: Noorjahan @Noori And Anr v. State of Madhya Pradesh WP(Crl) No. 73/2023]
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