Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court bench of Justices Prasanna Varale and Surendra Tavade on Thursday expressed displeasure over the 'celebrations' that ensued soon after the release of gangster Gajanan Marne from Taloja prison, Navi Mumbai in February this year. The bench slammed the gangster for taking out a procession of nearly 100 vehicles from Navi Mumbai to his residence in Pune.

The bench was seized with a plea filed by Marne's wife through advocate Aniket Nikam challenging her husband's detention. Notably, Marne and 100 others were booked for violating lockdown norms soon after his release.

However, when the matter came up for hearing, the bench noted that Nikam is appearing for the gangster, who took out a convoy of over 100 vehicles to Pune to celebrate his release. "Mr Nikam, we must say that we aren't happy at all. We shouldn't support such an act," Justice Varale said at the outset.

The judge further sought to know why was the entire procession carried out. "Why was it being celebrated at such a large scale? One can understand if your client has achieved something for the social cause and then people are appreciating his work", Justice Varale questioned. To which Nikam contested saying, "My instructions are that all those people had come voluntarily and my client didn't ask anyone to come to the jail."

"Voluntarily?" a visibly irked Justice Varale questioned, adding, "There were more than 60 vehicles and you say it was voluntarily done. Is it the way and time to carry out a procession?". The judges further pointed out that neither Nikam or his clients could deny the procession as there are videos of the same that have went viral of social media.

"What was there to celebrate? Had he did some great social or noble work? Did he help people during the pandemic? No, he was released from jail," Justice Varale remarked.

The bench questioned the timing of the large convoy. It said, "We fail to understand as to why were all these celebrations and processions done during lockdown period. Your client breached lockdown restrictions," the bench noted.

"Is your client not aware of lockdown restrictions? From highest to the lowest authorities in the country are urging and appealing citizens to follow the lockdown norms to maintain social distancing but all that went out of the window," Justice Varale observed, adding, "We are expressing our displeasure and we aren't shy of it."

"People are suffering due to pandemic. Instead of giving some solace to the citizens your client has breached rules. Why to carry out procession especially on an express highway?" Justice Varale observed. At this, Nikam informed the bench that five FIRs have been registered at various places against his client.

Having heard his submission the judges further expressed displeasure against Marne for "wasting police machinery". "When the police machinery is required to devote energy to maintain law and order, a large number of personnel were used to take action against this convoy of vehicles and the celebrations. Isn't this a pure wastage of resources?" Justice Varale observed adding that the conduct of the accused "wasn't appreciable".

The bench has adjourned the hearing till next week with a directive to the state to respond to his plea.

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