“Photographs Disclose Police Men Pelting Stones On The Crowd”: Karnataka HC Grants Bail To Anti-CAA Protesters

The court raps up police for their overzealousness in framing innocent people because they are muslims, while the evidence proves it was police that was pelting stones.

 

  • Partisan investigation with bad intention on part of police
  • No footage or photograph produced before court to show the presence of victims
  • Instead photographs disclose that the policemen themselves were pelting stones on the crowd.
  • Accused framed because of their being Muslims and member of PFI
  • Opposing the implementation of CAA and NRC is not an “unlawful object”
  • Deliberate attempt to coverup police excesses by implicating innocent persons
  • Overzealousness of police evident in FIR against the person killed 

Observing that “Investigation appears to be mala fide and partisan,” the Karnataka High Court has granted bail to 22 people, charged by the Mangalore police, on charges of unlawful assembly armed with lethal weapons, attempting to set fire to North Police Station, Mangaluru and obstructing the police from discharging their duties and causing damage to public property, etc., in violation of the prohibitory order imposed by the Commissioner of Police, Mangaluru, under section 144 Cr.P.C on December 19, 2019. The accused are allegedly part of rally carried out to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Justice John Michael Cunha, while granting bail to the accused said;

“In an offence involving a large number of accused, identity and participation of each accused must be fixed with reasonable certainty. In the present cases, a perusal of the case records produced by the learned SPP-I indicates that the identity of the accused involved in the alleged incident appear to have been fixed on the basis of their affiliation to PFI (Popular Front Of India) and they being members of the Muslim community. Though it is stated that the involvement of the petitioners is captured in the CCTV footage and photographs, no such material is produced before this Court showing the presence of any one of the petitioners at the spot armed with deadly weapons.”

On an objection made by the state that there was a hint as to holding of protest by the Muslim youth on 19.12.2019, opposing implementation of CAA by the Central Government and in that connection, the Commissioner of Police, Mangaluru had imposed prohibitory order under section 144 Cr.P.C. from 9.00 p.m. on 18.12.2019 till 12.00 midnight of 20.12.2019, the court said “This assertion indicates that common object of the assembly was to oppose the implementation of CAA and NRC which by itself is not an “unlawful object” within the meaning of section 141 of IPC.”

Commenting on the evidence collected by the investigating agency the court said;

“The material collected by the Investigating Agency does not contain any specific evidence as to the presence of any one of the petitioners at the spot; on the other hand, omnibus allegations are made against the Muslim crowd of 1500 – 2000, alleging that they were armed with weapons like stones, soda bottles, and glass pieces. The photographs produced by learned SPP-I depict that hardly any member of the crowd was armed with weapons except one of them holding a bottle. In none of these photographs, police station or policemen are seen in the vicinity. On the other hand, photographs produced by the petitioners disclose that the policemen themselves were pelting stones on the crowd.”

The bench also considered the fact that 31 FIR’s have been registered by the police against protestors but on complaints made by the family of the injured and those persons who died in police firing, no case has been registered. It said

“Even though the law required the police to register independent FIRs in view of the specific complaint made against the police officers making out cognizable offences, the respondent police have failed to register FIRs which would go to show that a deliberate attempt is underway to cover up police excesses by implicating innocent persons at the whims and caprice of the police. Overzealousness of the police is also evident from the fact that FIRs are registered under section 307 IPC, against the persons killed by the police themselves. In the wake of the counter allegations made against the police and in the backdrop of the failure of the police to register the FIRs based on the complaints lodged by the victims, the possibility of false and mistaken implication cannot be ruled out.”

The bench said it was passing the order granting bail because;

“In the above circumstances, it would be travesty of justice to deny bail to the petitioners and sacrifice their liberties to the mercy of the District Administration and the police. The records indicate that a deliberate attempt has been made to trump-up evidence and to deprive the liberties of petitioners by fabricating evidence. It is not disputed that none of the petitioners have any criminal antecedents. The allegations leveled against the petitioners are not punishable with death or imprisonment for life. There is no direct evidence to connect the petitioners with the alleged offences. Investigation appears to be mala fide and partisan. In the said circumstances, in order to protect the rights and liberties of the petitioners, it is necessary to admit them to bail.”

The court directed the accused be released on bail of furnishing bond in a sum of Rs.1,00,000/-

Source: livelaw

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