Peaceful agitation a fundamental right: Mumbai court acquits five women booked for impeding road traffic

Latest News

A magistrate court in Mumbai’s Kurla recently acquitted five women accused of unlawfully assembling to protest against shortage in water supply in their neighbourhood [The State of Maharashtra vs. Rajani Vijay Angre & Ors.]
Magistrate RS Pajankar stressed that, in a democracy, peaceful agitation is a fundamental right.

“In democratic country making peaceful agitation is fundamental right of citizen. The women were making agitation as there was no water supply in their area for some days They were sent by the police to their home by giving an understanding. Therefore, there was no reason for the police to register F.I.R. against them and subsequently arrest them,” the Court said.

The ladies, two of whom were elderly citizens, were detained in 2015 by the police on accusations of unlawful assembly and wrongful restraint under the Indian Penal Code.

The ladies had allegedly gathered on Mumbai’s Eastern Freeway in 2015 after their neighbourhood had gone without water for a few days and were detained for impeding traffic.

After reviewing the prosecution’s evidence, the Court concluded that the evidence of the investigating officer was not substantiated and was refuted by two independent witnesses. The officer in the spot panchnama mentioned two witnesses, but they claimed they were not there when it was prepared.

The Court also highlighted that there was a delay in filing the First Information Report, and the cause for this was not disclosed in the report. It was even noticed that the police made no station diary entry before leaving the station for the location of the agitation that had been reported to them.

It also questioned why only one woman was arrested on the day of the incident if, reportedly, forty to fifty women had assembled.

“It is strange that at the time of incident there were 35 to 40 women present on the spot of incident, however the police arrested only one accused on that day and did not arrest other women,” it commented.

As a result, the Court noted that the police officers who testified were interested witnesses, and not a single independent witness testified in support of the prosecution’s case. It also highlighted that the prosecution did not examine any independent witness.

“When the independent witnesses are available on the spot of incident, the rule of prudence requires the evidence of at least one independent witness. However, no single independent witness has been examined by the prosecution. Therefore, it creates doubt about genuineness on the investigation carried out by the Investigating Officer,” it stated.

Therefore, the Court acquitted all five women who had been accused, concluding that there was no need for the police to file an FIR against the ladies and then arrest them because they were legitimately agitating peacefully.

Source Link

Leave a Reply