Assam court grants bail to Jignesh Mevani in assault case, pulls up police for filing false FIR
The Gujarat MLA said that it was an ‘cowardly act’ of the BJP government to use a woman police official to register a case against him on assault charges.
Granting bail to Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani in the case related to an alleged assault of a woman police officer, a court in Assam on Friday pulled up the police for registering a false first information report.
Mevani was arrested on Monday night for the second time after he was granted bail by a court in the state’s Kokrajhar city in a case related to his tweet about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mevani had tweeted that the prime minister worshiped Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse.
The new case was filed based on a complaint by a police officer named Debika Brahma, who had alleged that Mevani had “uttered slang words” and assaulted her while he was being taken from Guwahati airport to Kokrajhar district.
Mevani was booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 294 (obscene act in any public place), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty).
On Thursday, the sessions court had reserved its orders on Mevani’s bail. The MLA’s first bail plea in the case was rejected two days ago by a local court. He was sent to police custody for five days.
In its order on Friday, Aparesh Chakravarty, Barpeta district and sessions judge, said the Gauhati High Court should direct the police to reform themselves to prevent registration of “false FIRs” and give credibility to the police’s version that the accused persons try to escape their custody.
“Otherwise our state will become a police state, which the society can ill afford,” the judge said.
The court said that it has been a “routine phenomenon” in Assam as the police claim that an accused person tried to flee and the personnel had to shoot at them, leaving them dead or injured.
Since the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government assumed power in Assam in May, 46 people have been killed and at least 108 injured in police firing while allegedly fleeing from custody or attacking officers.
After his release from the jail, Mevani said it was an “cowardly act” by the Bharatiya Janata Party government to use a woman police official to file a case against him, reported Assam-based news channel NKTV.
“The tweet on the basis of which [first] FIR was registered, its content was to be appreciated,” Mevani told reporters. “There had been three [incidents of] communal violence in the state.”
On Twitter, Mevani had also advised Prime Minister Narendra Modi to appeal for peace and harmony during his April 20 visit to communal violence-hit areas in Gujarat. The tweet, according to a complaint by Arup Kumar Dey, a BJP leader in Kokrajhar, had the “propensity to disturb public tranquillity, prejudicial to maintenance of harmony among a certain section of people”.
On Friday, the sessions court directed the police to release Mevani after he furnishes a bail bond of Rs 10,000.
Bora told The Wire that the low bail amount “indicates that it was a fabricated case”.
The court also said the alleged pushing down of the woman police official from her seat cannot be considered as outraging her modesty as male police officers were in the vehicle at the time of the incident.
“No sane person will every try to outrage the modest of a lady police officer in presence of two male police officials and there is nothing in the record to hold that the accused Shri Jignesh Mevani is an insane person,” it said.
The court also pointed out that the complainant had given different versions of the incident to the police and the judicial magistrate.
It said that the women had told the magistrate that the MLA did not use his hands to assault her. The woman police official said that Mevani abused her in his vernacular language. But the court pointed out that the official did not understand the language or she would mentioned the language in her deposition.
“In view of the above testimony of the victim woman, the instant case is manufactured for the purpose of keeping the accused Shri Jignesh Mevani in detention for a longer period, abusing of the process of the court and the law,” it added.