Mumbai: In a major respite for advocate Rizwan Siddiqui, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Thane police to “forthwith” release him from their custody. The advocate, who was arrested for allegedly obtaining the Call Data Records (CDRs) of actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s wife, was accordingly released from custody on Wednesday afternoon.
A division bench of Justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Justice Prakash Naik said the Thane police officials acted in a “high-handed” manner and failed to follow the due process of law in arresting the advocate. The judges accordingly directed the officials in the State Home Department and also the senior officials of Thane police to look into the matter and initiate punitive action against the officers who skipped the due process while arresting Siddiqui in the CDR case.
The judges were hearing a habeas corpus writ petition filed by Siddiqui’s wife Tasneem claiming her husband’s arrest was illegal and in contravention to law. According to Tasneem’s petition, her husband was arrested on the night of March 16, a day prior to his formal appearance before the Thane Crime Branch unit one. She claimed that the police had summoned her husband on March 14; while complying with this summon, Siddiqui went to the Thane police for recording his statement on March 16.
However, the police arrested him on March 16 itself, that too without serving the mandatory notice under section 41 (a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. This notice is issued to give a person an opportunity to appear before the police. Contrary to Tasneem’s contention, the police claimed it had made an attempt to serve a notice to Siddiqui but he refused to accept the same and hence he was arrested.
Having vetted the petition and after hearing the submissions, Justice Dharmadhikari said, “It clearly shows that you have not followed the due process of law. It appears to us that some officials have acted in a high-handed manner to arrest the applicant, which is clearly in contravention to the law.” Meanwhile, the public prosecutor, while maintaining that the police has no objection to Siddiqui’s release, also informed the judges that a Magistrate has remanded him to police custody till March 23. Annoyed over the submission, Justice Dharmadhikari said, “The orders passed by a Magistrate are not binding upon this court. Let us clarify that this court has intervened in this matter only because the due process of law was not followed.”
“We think the superior officials in the Thane police and also the State home department must look into this matter and initiate punitive action against the erring officers. At the same time, we want you (Thane police) to release the applicant forthwith,” Justice Dharmadhikari said. “Let us also clarify our observations have nothing to do with this case or role of the applicant in it. The police is at liberty to act against the applicant but by following the due process of law,” the judges said.