A court in Maharashtra's Thane has acquitted two shopkeepers in Navi Mumbai, who were accused of assaulting local civic officials in 2016 and deterring them from discharging duty.
District judge PM Gupta, in the order passed last week that was made available on Friday, said the prosecution has failed to prove the charges against the accused duo - Bhagwan Pandurang Dhakne and Balchandra Sopan Nalawade - who run shops in Haware Centurion Mall in Nerul.
The accused were booked under IPC sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 34 (common intention).
Additional public prosecutor S M Dandekar told the court that some shopkeepers in the Nerul-based mall, including the two accused, had made unauthorised constructions in their shops, which were not removed despite the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) issuing notices to them.
On July 5, 2016, when the civic officials went to the mall to pull down the illegal constructions, the accused stopped them from performing their duty and also got into an altercation, she said.
In his complaint, NMMC block officer Subhash Dadu Adagale had said that due to the act of the shopkeepers, it was not possible for the authorities to raze the illegal constructions.
The court, however, said that as per the evidence of the prosecution witnesses, it is clear that no criminal force was used by the accused persons to deter them from discharging their duty.
The court also said that on the day of the incident, the Bombay High Court had passed an order and directed the parties to maintain status quo regarding the constructions at the mall. At that time, the shop owners had informed the officials about the HC order and requested them to not initiate any action. Therefore, it was expected from the authorities to postpone the action, but they did not pay any heed to the request.
"I come to the conclusion that the prosecution failed to prove that on July 5, 2016, the accused persons assaulted or used criminal force against the informant when he was discharging his duty as a public servant or with intent to prevent or deter him from discharging his duty. There is no evidence on record to prove the guilt of the accused persons," the judge said.
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