'No Evidence Of Police Assault': HC Dismisses Plea Seeking Action Police For Assaulting Lawyers

'No Evidence Of Police Assault': HC Dismisses Plea Seeking Action Police For Assaulting Lawyers

None of the injured advocates had come forward to register any complaints, the bench added.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Monday, June 24, 2024, 08:58 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File pic

Observing that there is “no evidence of any police assault”, the Bombay high court dismissed a petition filed by an advocate seeking action against police officers for allegedly manhandling lawyers during a peaceful protest at Azad Maidan on February 2, 2024. 

The lawyers had gathered at Azad Maidan in South Mumbai to stage a protest and seek enactment of the Advocates Protection Act. The protest was also a condemn meeting for the alleged kidnapping and murder of an advocate couple on January 27 this year. 

The petition filed by advocate Nitin Satpute alleged that the lawyers in the meeting were manhandled and were restricted from leaving the ground by police by putting barricades. His Advocate Thekkara Vinod K Raman submitted that the police had illegally restrained and assaulted advocates participating in the protest. He said that one lawyer fainted  and others sustained  injuries. 

The  plea sought action against the police who had barricaded the lawyers. It sought insertion of section 353 (A) in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to address crimes against advocates. It also sought declaration that sections 353 and 332 of the IPC should not be applicable to advocates and that they are protected from being charged with the offences. The provisions  deal with the offence of obstructing a public servant from doing his duty by using criminal force.

Public prosecutor Hiten Venegaonkar submitted that the protest was largely peaceful and that police intervention was necessary only when some protestors attempted to breach barricades and threatened to conduct a road blockade and proceed towards Mantralaya. The police had  provided water coolers and filters at the protest site and that the fainting incident was due to heat, not police assault. 

Venegaonkar produced photographs to show the police assisting the lawyer who fainted and said CCTV footage would support the police version. 

The court, after going through the photographs and the CCTV footage, noted that the police had acted within their authority to maintain order and prevent the protest from escalating.

“The photographs show a lady constable assisting the fainted advocate, who was taken to a hospital in a police vehicle. There is no evidence of any police assault,” a bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Shyam Chandak said on June 11. 

Also, none of the injured advocates had come forward to register any complaints, the bench added. As far as the petitioner’s prayer for amendment to IPC, the bench said it was the State and Centre’s authority. 

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