Three BJP councillors get pre-arrest bail in BEST protest case

Three BJP councillors on Saturday got anticipatory bail in a case registered against them for being part of a group that had protested against ‘inflated’ bills in July last year at the BEST Bhavan in Colaba and restrained the undertaking’s general manager.

The court granted the pleas of councillors Nehal Shah, Rajashree Shirwadkar and Sanjay alias Nana Ambole. BJP leader Raj Purohit’s son Akash Purohit was also granted anticipatory bail.

The court, however, said in its order that prima-facie such act of gathering during pandemic is unacceptable as when threat of pandemic is not averted, gathering of more persons is not only to persons who are working as essential service workers like electricity supply workers and police personnel, but also public at large.

It said that charge sheet is filed before a magistrate court and investigation is completed and their custodial interrogation is not required, therefore, anticipatory bail be granted by imposing conditions.

They had claimed anticipatory bail stating that they had been falsely implicated. They had been peacefully protesting and did not harm anyone, they said.

The police allege that they were among 30-35 BJP workers who gathered at the BEST Bhavan, went to the general manager’s office and without submitting any request application, insisted that their demands be met. They used filthy language, sloganeered and broke the glass in the office. They manhandled the GM and assaulted police amid the lockdown when gathering of more than five persons was prohibited.

The Colaba police had registered offences against them under provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, Maharashtra Police Act and under the IPC for criminal force or assault on public servant to deter from discharging duty, among other offences.

Early this month, the court had granted anticipatory bail to 15 BJP members in the same case.

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