Bombay HC questions Police conduct in arrest of Lawyer Accused of Kidnapping Client

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The Bombay High Court on Monday questioned Navi Mumbai Police on its conduct while arresting a lawyer and producing him before a magistrate in a case of kidnapping and ransom filed by one of his clients, saying it should not compel the court to “direct the CBI to investigate” the matter.

The client had accused the lawyer of kidnapping him in April first week and demanding a ransom of Rs 3 crore.

A division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice S P Tavade was hearing a writ plea filed by Vimal Jha, the accused lawyer, and a PIL by a group called Lawyers for Just Society, challenging the arrest, argued by advocates Prashant Pandey and Subhash Jha, respectively.

Calling the arrest made by Kharghar Police “illegal”, the plea sought an inquiry by an “independent agency”, pleading that Jha had merely accompanied the client to different places for court hearings and that charges against him were “false”.

In the FIR, the complainant had said the accused and his accomplices had forcibly taken him to various locations in the state, including Karjat, Murbad and Nashik.

The petitioner said he was arrested on April 3 and produced before the magistrate on April 5 — beyond stipulated 24-hour limitation as per Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which was illegal. The pleas further claimed that Jha was handcuffed and paraded in the court in violation of norms which stipulate that no accused shall be handcuffed unless magistrate’s order is obtained.

Arguing for the police, Chief Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare said that Jha was called to the Police station on April 3, but an FIR was registered on April 5 and he was arrested thereafter. Therefore, he was produced before a magistrate within stipulated 24-hour time, Thakare said. Thakare also submitted that he did not support and would not justify handcuffing of the accused lawyer.

The bench noted, “Such conduct on the part of police authority in a serious matter like this is unacceptable.” The HC warned the police officers concerned to be “careful”.

Justice Kathawalla remarked: “If police force in the state is to behave like this, do not compel us to ask some other investigative agency to probe this case…don’t compel us to direct CBI to investigate this.”

The bench then directed the police to file a detailed affidavit on the status of probe and details pertaining to the arrest of the accused, and posted the matter for further hearing on May 19.

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