A magistrate court in Mazgaon has acquitted Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam along with 20 others associated with the party who were booked in 2016 by the Azad Maidan police station for holding a candlelight march defying prohibitory orders.
The march was held in connection with the suicide of a retired army man Ram Kishan Greval over the delay in implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) issue. Finding loopholes in the evidence produced by the police before it, the court said in its order of June 7, that a CD (containing video clips of the protest) was prepared by the police six months after the incident and therefore, the video clips in it cannot be believed.
Metropolitan Magistrate PI Mokashi further said that the investigating officer has not followed the procedure to seize and store electronic evidence. The magistrate also pointed out that there was a failure on the part of the police witnesses to identify and prove the identity of the accused persons by producing sufficient documentary evidence.
Magistrate Mokashi also added in the judgment that the prosecution had not examined any independent eye-witnesses to the incident though the spot and road of the candle march was a public place. The court said these falsify the case of the prosecution and that it failed to prove its case against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. The accused are liable to be acquitted, the order stated.
As per the prosecution’s case, on Nov 4, 2016, 200 to 250 party workers of the Congress led by Sanjay Nirupam had held a candle march from St. Xavier’s College to Azad Maidan. The police said they started giving slogans such as “Nahi sahenge, nahi sahenge, tanashahi nahi sahenge”. “Modi sarkar sainiko ke khilaf”, “One rank one pension le kar rahenge”.
A senior police inspector and police inspector of the Azad Maidan police station had purportedly informed them that there is an order of the police commissioner prohibiting assembly, but they had not heeded to their advice and continued with the march. They were booked under various provisions of the Maharashtra Police Act for breaching the prohibitory order.