MUMBAI: The police won the ire of the Bombay Supreme Court on Monday after failing to answer some questions about the arrest of a lawyer on charges of kidnapping.
A panel of judges SJ Kathawalla and SP Tavade was hearing two pleas related to the arrest of lawyer Vimal Jha, one brought by the accused himself and the other by a group called Lawyers for the Just Society, both alleging that the arrest made last month was illegal. The pleas claim that the police violated the rules of the CrPC and also the orders of the Supreme Court during the arrest.
According to the pleas, Jha was arrested on April 3, but only presented to a magistrate on April 5, although the CrPc determines that one must be presented to a magistrate within 24 hours. According to the pleas, he was also handcuffed when presented in court, although the Supreme Court has ruled that no accused should be handcuffed unless an order is obtained from the magistrate.
The state attorney, public prosecutor Deepak Thakare, denied the allegations made by the petitioners and told the bench that Jha was arrested on April 4 and presented to the magistrates’ court on April 5.
He later said that Jha was called to the police station on April 3, but an FIR was registered around 4 am on April 5 and he was not arrested until after that.
When the bank asked Thakare for CCTV images of the police station in question to confirm the same, Thakare said the police station had no CCTV cameras installed at the time of Jha’s arrest, adding that it installed CCTVs only on May 1 this year. .
Thakare also told HC that Jha was handcuffed because the police were informed by a co-accused in the event that Jha would “probably flee” from custody. Making a strong exception to these allegations, the bench reminded Thakare of SC’s orders that all police stations must have CCTV cameras.
“How many police stations don’t have CCTV and why? A lawyer is behind bars. Take this issue seriously. Who went to call you at the station? Which policeman came to call you? Why are you repeatedly making false statements in front of us? “said the HC.
He also asked if Jha was “some big criminal” who had to be handcuffed. The court instructed Thakare to have the police file a sworn statement by Wednesday on the investigation carried out so far and also provide details of when Jha was taken to the police station and when he was arrested.
The court also asked Thakare to warn officials who were preparing the statement against making false statements. “Mr. Thakare, please do your duty out of court and tell the police to be very careful. If the police are going to behave like this … don’t force us to ask the CBI or some other agency to investigate.” the HC warned.
According to the petition, Jha was arrested by Kharghar police after one of his clients filed a complaint alleging kidnapping and extortion.
This client had several criminal complaints against his name, and Jha simply accompanied him to various places for court hearings, and the kidnapping and extortion case was false, petitioners’ lawyers, Subhash Jha and Prashant Pandey, told HC.
The HC will continue to hear the fundamentals on May 19.