Mumbai: In a reprieve to a temple priest, the Bombay High Court has granted him protection from arrest. The priest has been booked along with 144 others by the Solapur police for violating lockdown rules and carrying out a religious procession by defying all norms.
Notably, on March 29, the residents of Wagdari village, Akkalkot, had organised the annual religious procession of God Parmeshwar. The procession, which is usually a five-day event, a day after the Gudi Padwa festival, was attended by hundreds of devotees.
As the procession was organised by throwing all rules in the air, the Solapur Police had to intervene to disburse the crowd in order to avoid mass transmission of coronavirus. The crowd in return pelted stones and assaulted the cops and in this altercation four policemen sustained serious injuries along with a home guard.
The police accordingly registered a case against 44 villagers including the priest - Shivputra Shirgan for defying lockdown rules and obstructing the public authorities from functioning. The cops had also booked 100 unknown persons in the case and had meanwhile arrested 22 of the 44 villagers named in the FIR.
Apprehending that he might get arrested, the priest Shirgan moved a bench of Justice Sadhana Jadhav seeking anticipatory bail. Before Justice Jadhav, Shirgan highlighted the fact that he was summoned by the Panch Committee of the Wagdari village for performing pooja.
And accordingly, he performed the pooja of the chariot that carried the god, and claimed to have obliged the Panch Committee of the temple. Having considered all the contentions, Justice Jadhav said, "The applicant (Shirgan) is 65 years old.
Prima facie, there is no material to show that Shirgan had quarreled with the police or had pelted stones at the police." "Therefore, prima facie, I am of the opinion that there is no material to indicate that Shirgan's custodial interrogation is warranted.
Considering his age as well as the fact that no overt act is attributed to him, I think he deserves ad-interim relief," Justice Jadhav ruled. The bench accordingly granted him relief, with a directive to pay Rs 10,000 towards the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.