Bombay High Court Orders Police To Preserve CCTV Footage Of Communal Clashes In Malvani During Ram Navami Last Year

Bombay High Court Orders Police To Preserve CCTV Footage Of Communal Clashes In Malvani During Ram Navami Last Year

The court passed the order while hearing a plea by a social activist Muhammad Jameel Merchant, who is an accused in the case.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Sunday, January 28, 2024, 10:54 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File

Bombay High Court has directed Mumbai police to preserve the footage from the CCTVs at Malvani police station for March 30-31 last year in connection with the communal flare-ups in the Malvani area during the Ram Navami festivities.

The court passed the order while hearing a plea by a social activist Muhammad Jameel Merchant, who is an accused in the case. He has alleged that he has been falsely implicated in the  are for political reasons. 

Merchant’s advocates Sanjeev Kadam and BV Bukhari had urged the court to direct the police to preserve the footage of the police station from 10pm on March 30 to 10am on March 31. Earlier this month, the HC had directed the DCP (Zone XI) to “retrieve” the video and audio footage of the said dates  and keep it in his “safe custody”. 

Details of case

State advocates Kaushik Mhatre and RM Pethe informed a bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Manjusha Deshpande that the DCP Ajay Kumar Bandal  has collected the footage. An affidavit was filed by Bandal disclosing that “some CCTV footage were in a working condition and some were not in a working condition”. 

The audio was not available for the footage. Kadam argued that this was in violation of the Supreme Court directions with regard to video/ audio footage. To this, the bench said that Merchant could file a separate petition for raising the said grievance. 

Merchant has claimed that he has been falsely implicated in the case and that he was helping the police to control the crowd. He had also alleged that there was political pressure in police to register a complaint against him. 

Accused approached HC after police refused to share CCTV footage

He approached the high court after the police refused to share the CCTV footage of the police station of the day of the incident. Hence, he urged the court to direct the authorities to preserve  the footage. 

A case was registered by Malvani police  last year following communal violence on March 30 over playing of music during Ram Navami celebrations outside a mosque. 

In June 2023, the police filed chargesheet against at least 26 people, including a minor. The police claimed that the incident was pre-planned by the accused as revenge for a similar communal incident that had taken place in the same area on the occasion of Ram Navami in 2022. 

The FIR was filed under Sections 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 145 (unlawful assembly) and 147 (rioting) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Maharashtra Police Act.

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