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Muslim youth granted bail for allegedly spitting On ‘Mahakal’ procession by MP HC

By Pervez Bari

BHOPAL – How “Bulldozer Justice” in the name of instant justice being practiced by the governments of the day in many states of the country in even many petty criminal cases is ruining families, especially the poor, is beyond one’s comprehension.

Without giving any chance to the accused to explain his side or verifying the facts of the case his house is bulldozed in a hurry even though he may not be the owner of it. Generally for one person’s crime the whole family is penalised for no fault of theirs.

A latest example of this came to light when the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court released on bail an 18-year-old Muslim teenager of Ujjain who had been in custody for 151 days for allegedly spitting on a Hindu ‘Mahakal’ procession after the complainant and the eye witness turned hostile.

The above ruling came in a bail application filed under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The applicant, Adnan Mansuri was in jail since 17.07.2023 in connection with a criminal case for commission of offences punishable under Sections 295-A, 153-A, 296, 505 and 34 of IPC.

Justice Anil Verma observed, “Considering all the facts and circumstances of the case, arguments advanced by counsel for the parties, nature and gravity of allegation as also taking note of the fact that complainant Sawan Lot has been examined before the trial Court but he has turned hostile and did not support the case of prosecution and even he has also denied his relevant portion of his FIR (Ex. P-1), eye- witness Ajay Khatri also turned hostile and not supported the case of the prosecution.”

“No T.I. parade has been conducted by the investigating officer, investigation is over and charge sheet has been filed, applicant is not having any criminal background, in view of the above, I deem it proper to release the applicant on bail,” Justice Verma held.

According to the prosecution’s account, on the evening of July 17, 2023, a Hindu procession was underway in Ujjain, when the complainant and his friends joined the procession. As the procession reached Tanki Square, unidentified individuals on the terrace of a building along the route allegedly began spitting on the procession vehicle.

Subsequently, the complainant reported the incident to the police, leading to the registration of a case against the accused under the aforesaid sections.

The counsel for the applicant had contended that the applicant was innocent and was being falsely implicated in the matter. The counsel further contended that the applicant had been in custody since 17.07.2023, and the investigation was over, with a charge sheet having been filed.

The counsel submitted that a complainant, namely, Sawan Lot, and an eyewitness, namely, Ajay Khatri were examined before the trial court, and they both had turned hostile and did not support the case of the prosecution.

Further, the counsel submitted that the applicant was a permanent resident of Ujjain, and a final conclusion of the trial was likely to take a sufficiently long time. Thus, under the above circumstances, the prayer for the grant of bail was requested to be considered on such terms and conditions.

Contrarily, the Government Advocate, appearing on behalf of the State asserted that the applicant had been identified in the CCTV footage. He contended that it was a serious case concerning communal harmony, and consequently, the applicant was not deemed eligible for bail.

The Court, however, without commenting on the merits of the case, allowed the application, and directed, “the applicant be released on bail upon his furnishing a personal bond in the sum of Rs.75,000/- with one solvent surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of the trial Court for his appearance before the trial Court, as and when required. He shall abide by the conditions enumerated u/S. 437(3) Cr.P.C.”

Meanwhile, it may be pointed out here that three people, including two minors, both aged 15 years, were arrested by the MP police on July 17, 2023, over the allegations of spitting water on Mahakal ki Sawari, a Hindu religious procession, that passed by their house.

The minors were granted bail only in September 2023 by the Madhya Pradesh High Court after the juvenile court denied them bail on two occasions. The HC while granting the two minors bail found fault on the part of the justice board. It held that the board “committed jurisdictional error and illegality” in passing the orders.

An FIR was registered and the arrests were made based on the complaint of Sawan Lot, 28, from Indore who had joined the procession alongside his friends. The statement of Lot’s friend, Ajay Khatri, was also recorded.

Lot had accused Adnan and the two other minors of spitting on the religious procession. “This incident has offended my religious sentiments and those of the entire community,” Lot was quoted as saying in the FIR, adding that he had submitted two videos of the incident to back his claim.

However, the MP police only spoke about one video in the charge-sheet, where a minor was seen spitting on the procession from the rooftop of a three-storey building. Advocate Devendra Sengar, who appeared for Adnan Mansoori, reportedly said that the MP police failed to present the video in court.
Witness deny incident

Five months later, during a deposition at the court, Lot and Khatri denied witnessing the incident. In a written statement to the judicial magistrate, Lot claimed that he was misquoted by the police who asked him to sign some papers and did so without telling why.

Lok stated that they learned of the spitting incident after the MP police picked them up and took them to the police station alongside a few others who took part in the procession. “I don’t know what was written in the FIR,” said Lot in his statement, adding that he was misquoted on several instances by the police in the FIR. Lot also denied being acquainted with Mausam Jaiswal, the person who shot the video of the alleged incident.

The other witness, Ajay Khatri, stated that he was taken to the police station alongside 40-50 others and was called to the first floor of the police station after an hour where he was asked to sign some papers, which he did without the knowledge of what was written on them. He also added that he did not witness the incident and neither could he identify the accused and that the police had misquoted him.

Accused house bulldozed

Following their arrest, a three-storey building, belonging to Ashraf Hussain Mansoori, the father of the two accused, was demolished by the MP authorities in Ujjain amidst the beating of drums and loud cheers by a group of people who had arrived to witness the demolition.

However, a backdated notice was pasted on the ground floor of the building half an hour before the police and administration arrived with a bulldozer to demolish the “dangerous structure”. Thereby the Mansooris, and a dozen other men, women and children, who had been residing in the building for years, were rendered homeless.

The small shop on the ground floor of the building, the only means of livelihood for the family was also demolished. The family, who has been living in a rented house for the last five months, recently restarted the business with minimal repairs.

Will the Ujjain district administration which got the house of the father of the accused pulled down or get the house rebuilt or pay compensation to the family? Does “Bulldozer Justice” in the name of instant justice hold any ground in a humane society? This is to be pondered upon by those in power while administrating justice to the common man in society.  

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