A sessions court while recently setting aside an order of the Special Executive Magistrate and ACP, Bandra Division against Republic journalist Pradeep Bhadari in a chapter case has said in a detailed order that the conditions for furnishing surety makes the intention of the Special Executive Magistrate “really questionable”.
Bhandari had challenged the order that had asked to pay an interim bond of Rs. 10 lakhs and furnish surety from a journalist of another channel as security for good behaviour. Bhandari has an FIR against him for unlawful assembly outside actor Kangana Ranaut’s bungalow during its demolition and another NC in Colaba police station which led to these proceedings.
Additional Sessions Judge SP Ponkshe referred to the surety requirement in the special magistrate's order and said in her order, “This such specific bond, condition is really questionable in the intention of the Special Executive Magistrate.”
“Putting a specific condition for furnishing surety with specific directions is totally incorrect and unwarranted”, the court said elsewhere in its order.
The chapter proceedings were initiated against Bhandari under provisions of the CrPC dealing with habitual offenders.
The court said that that record prima facie nowhere discloses that Bhandari is a habitual offender and that issuance of show cause notice to him by the special magistrate is “incorrect and illegal”. “Prime facie nothing discloses how the learned Special Executive Magistrate has identified the present applicant as habitual offender. There is nothing on record to identify the present applicant as a habitual offender in terms of definition of the Bombay Habitual Offenders Act.
The court also questioned how the magistrate after himself granting exemption to Bhandari from appearance before him had considered the same as unfair conduct on his part while passing the order.
It further said the alleged incident is of September 2020, show cause notice was issued in October 2020 and order passed on 30 December 2020, which itself shows that immediate measures were not required. “When liberty of person is involved, it is not open to the Special Executive Magistrate to depart from procedure to any substantial extent.” it added.