The Bombay High Court on Thursday quashed a case registered against all nine accused, including Dadra and Nagar Haveli Union Territory Administrator Praful Khoda Patel, for allegedly abetting the suicide of MP Mohan Delkar in February last year.
A division bench of Justices Prasanna B Varale and Shrikant D Kulkarni, while quashing the FIR, observed that they found "substance and merit" in the petitioners’ arguments and to make them "undergo the rigours of criminal prosecution is nothing but an abuse of the process of law".
A seven-term MP from Dadra and Nagar Haveli (DNH), Mohan Delkar, 58, was found dead in a room at a hotel in Marine Drive on February 22, 2021. In the case, Praful Kheda Patel and eight others were accused of abetment to suicide and extortion.
On March 9, 2021, an FIR was filed at the Marine Drive police station based on a complaint by Delkar's son Abhinav under IPC sections 306 (abetment of suicide), 506 (criminal intimidation), 389 (putting the person on accusation of offence in order to commit extortion) and also under the Prevention of Atrocities Act.
The complaint was filed against Patel, then district collector, Sandeep Kumar Singh, then Superintendent of Police Sharad Darade, then deputy collector Apurva Sharma, sub-divisional officer Manasvi Jain, police inspector (Silvassa) Manoj Patel, DNH administrative department official Rohit Yadav, political leader Fattesingh Chauhan, and then talathi of Silvassa Dilip Patel for allegedly having abetted suicide by "misusing their posts and powers and intentionally conspiring and planning against Delkar".
The FIR had alleged that Delkar was under pressure for a year prior to his death and that the DNH administration was harassing him to gain control over his institute, SSR College of Pharmacy and Management, and prevented him from contesting further elections.
They approached HC seeking quashing of the FIR, stating that the allegations were "baseless, false and contrary to the provisions of law".
Agreeing with the defence argument, the judges said that to attract Section 306 of the IPC, the pre-requisite is abetment.
The judges observed in the 101-page judgement that there must be material of a positive act as a pre-requisite for satisfying the word abetment. The contents of the FIR and references made to incidents fall too short to show any positive act committed by the petitioners so as to satisfy the term abetment, which is a pre-requisite of Section 306 of the IPC.
In addition, the HC also said that in the present case, "except bare words that the petitioners were acting under the directions of the Administrator, there is not a single incident to show that these petitioners came together and acted under the dictates of the Administrator (Khoda)".
So far as the attraction of the Atrocities Act is concerned, even the contents of the FIR fall too short to attract the provisions of the Atrocities Act, said the court. "It is only an allegation in the report that the deceased belonged to a scheduled tribe community and this fact was known to the petitioners and the petitioners have harassed and ill-treated the deceased," it added.