HC raps cops for failing to answer queries on lawyer's arrest

·3-min read

Mumbai, May 17 (PTI) The police earned the ire of the Bombay High Court on Monday after it failed to answer some queries on the arrest of a lawyer on charges of kidnapping.

A bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and SP Tavade was hearing two connected pleas related to the arrest of lawyer Vimal Jha, one filed by the accused himself and the other by a group called Lawyers for Just Society, both contending that the arrest made last month was illegal.

The pleas claimed police flouted CrPC norms as well as Supreme Court orders during the arrest.

As per the pleas, Jha was arrested on April 3, but produced before a magistrate only on April 5, though the CrPc mandates that one should be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours.

As per the pleas, he was also handcuffed when produced in court, despite the Supreme Court directing that no accused shall be handcuffed unless a magistrate's order is obtained for the same.

The state's counsel, Chief Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare, denied the allegations made by the petitioners, and told the bench Jha was arrested on April 4 and produced before the magistrate court on April 5.

He later said Jha was called to the police station on April 3, but an FIR was registered around 4 am on April 5 and he was arrested only after that.

When the bench asked Thakare for the CCTV footage from the concerned police station to confirm the same, Thakare said the police station did not have CCTV cameras installed at the time of Jha's arrest, adding that it had installed CCTVs only on May 1 this year.

Thakare also told HC Jha was handcuffed because the police had been informed by a co-accused in the case that Jha was 'likely to flee' from custody.

Taking strong exception to these submissions, the bench reminded Thakare of SC orders which mandate that all police stations must have CCTV cameras.

'How many police stations do not have CCTV and why? An advocate is behind bars. Please take this matter seriously.

Who went to call him to the police station? Which officer went to call him? Why are you repeatedly making false statements before us?' the HC said.

It also asked if Jha was 'some great criminal' that he had to be handcuffed.

The bench directed Thakare to get the police to file an affidavit by Wednesday on the investigation carried out so far, and also submit details of when Jha was brought to the police station and when he was arrested.

The court also asked Thakare to caution the officers preparing the affidavit against making any false statements.

'Mr Thakare, please do your duty outside the court and tell the officers to be very careful. If the police is going to behave like this....don't compel us to ask the CBI or some other agency to investigate,' the HC warned.

As per the petition, Jha was arrested by Kharghar police after one his clients lodged a complaint alleging kidnapping and extortion.

This client had several criminal complaints against his name, and Jha had merely accompanied him to several places for court hearings, and the kidnapping and extortion case was false, the petitioners' counsels, Subhash Jha and Prashant Pandey, told HC.

The HC will continue hearing the pleas on May 19. PTI AYA BNM BNM

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