Mumbai: A magistrate court has acquitted state legislative assembly speaker Rahul Narvekar among others of the BJP for participating in the party’s Jan Ashirwad Yatra. According to the police, the 2021 event – arranged at the behest of Union minister Narayan Rane – allegedly contravened the police commissioner’s order prohibiting assembly of persons to curb Covid.
Narvekar and five others were acquitted by the Girgaon magistrate court on Jan 30. The police had registered multiple first information reports (FIRs) across the city charging organisers and party activists with lockdown violations among other offences.
Prosecution has not examined any independent witnesses
In a detailed order, Metropolitan Magistrate Nadeem A Patel pointed out that the prosecution has not examined any independent witnesses, excluding two police witnesses. This, it said, creates doubt in the prosecution’s story that 200-250 people were present in the rally.
It also pointed out that only six people were charge-sheeted and no absconded accused are shown in the charge-sheet. This too, it said, creates doubt on the presence of such a huge crowd as alleged. With regards to the Covid norms violations, the magistrate said the evidence is silent on the point of how they (accused) were spreading infection.
The court also held that the cops have not proved that an order of the police chief prohibiting assembly was in force on August 19, 2021 when the rally was held. As the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of the accused, they are entitled for the benefit of doubt, the court stated.
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