In a significant ruling, the Mahad Court has held that the arrest of Union Minister Narayan Tatu Rane by the Maharashtra Police was "justified" in the case pertaining to the 'slap slur' against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, and ordered him not to repeat it.
While sending Rane, 69, to Magisterial Custodial Remand till September 4, the Mahad Court Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) S.S. Patil ruled: "Considering reason of arrest and reasons discussed above (in the order), I found that arrest is justified."
Spelling relief for the police, the court also held that there are grounds in the Criminal Procedure Code when "a police officer can arrest anybody without a warrant".
The JMFC's ruling effectively punctures the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders' allegations targeting the Maha Vikas Aghadi government for the 'illegal arrest' and dark warnings that it could lead to repercussions.
Shortly after Rane was granted magisterial custody for 10 days, his legal team comprising lawyers Rajendra Shirodkar and Sangram Desai applied for bail which was granted by JMFC Patil imposing several conditions late on Tuesday.
The Assistant Public Prosecutor Prakash Joshi and his team of lawyers strongly opposed the bail, submitting that the accused was a Union Minister who could make similar statements which could lead to disharmony among the people.
However, the court said that "no prejudice will be caused to the prosecution if the accused (Rane) is released on bail on certain terms and conditions".
In the Mahad Court, Rane said he was not ill-treated by the police, was ready and willing to cooperate with the investigations, would not abscond, furnish surety and abide by any terms and conditions imposed upon him.
Rane has not denied the ('slap slur') offence against the Chief Minister made out by the police and now has been advised by his lawyers not to make such statements in public, but was not prepared to give any written undertaking to the effect before the court.
The JMFC further held that all the offences, cognisable and non-cognisable, registered against Rane are triable by the court.
"Offences under Sections 153-A(1)(b),(c) and 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code are non-bailable, but not punishable for imprisonment for life or death. The offences are punishable which may extend upto three years. Rest of the offences (189, 504, 506 of IPC) are bailable," said JMFC Patil.
Citing grounds for rejecting police custodial interrogation, the court said that Rane made the alleged ('slap slur') statements before the police and the media, it was viral on social media, and his lawyers have also now advised him to refrain from making such utterances in public.
The court granted bail of Rs 15,000 to Rane, ordered him not to tamper with evidence, threaten or induce any witnesses or the police, report to the Alibaug Police on August 30 and the second Monday of September.
The JMFC Patil further ordered Rane to cooperate with the police investigations, to provide his voice samples if required for the case investigation but the police must give him seven days' prior notice.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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