The police should be held accountable for arbitrary arrests, lawyer Vrinda Grover told Live Law on Sunday.
The senior advocate claimed that illegal arrests take place not because the police are ignorant of the rules but because they abuse the process of law.
She made the statement in connection with journalist and Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair’s arrest in cases related to his tweets. Grover represented Zubair in the Supreme Court that granted the journalist interim bail on Wednesday in six cases filed against him in Uttar Pradesh.
The court had observed that the power of arrest must be pursued sparingly and that there was “no justification” to keep Zubair in further custody.
The cases against the journalist are related to satirical comments about television news anchors, allegedly hurting religious sentiments of the Hindu community and posting alleged inflammatory content about deities.
On Sunday, Grover said that the first question the court should ask the investigating officer is why the accused person has been arrested.
“They [the police] have to make out a case not just that there is a prima facie case against me [an accused person] but they have to make out a case saying that they need to arrest me,” she said. “So the prosecution has to cross many legal thresholds to curtail anybody’s liberty.”
The lawyer told Live Law that the court should call out police officials when they seek remand saying that an accused person is not cooperating.
Grover also said that when an accused person refrains from giving bank details to the police, who have arrested him for an alleged objectionable tweet, it cannot be described as non-cooperation. “It’s an assertion of my fundamental rights,” she said.
In the interview, Grover noted that while Zubair was only incarcerated for 23 days, Adivasis in Chhattisgarh were released after five years of being arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The 121 Adivasis were arrested for allegedly assisting Maoists in an attack on Central Reserve Police Force personnel in 2017.
Grover asked who will now compensate the Adivasis for the loss of liberty and the destruction of their lives.
“We don’t know how many of them have been further impoverished,” she told Live Law.
The lawyer added: “And to say that ask the Adivasi to go back to the same legal system to seek remedy there, is not acceptable. The burden is on the state, the state has to now compensate them. The state has to punish the officials who lodge these false cases knowingly under the guise of conflict, etcetera.”
‘Deliberate strategy to manufacture offences’
Grover also told Live Law that there was a “deliberate strategy” to manufacture offences based on “perceived hurt to religious sentiments”.
Certain groups under the guise of majoritarian representation are allowed to be hurt even though no offence has been made out, she added.
“They are feeling a perceived hurt,” she said. “Some of us don’t feel hurt cause the language is not meant to hurt, the language is not even causing offence. Leave aside the crossing the threshold of inciting hatred, ill will, enmity or hurting religious sentiments.”
Grover added that some people for “ulterior motives and extraneous reasons” are encouraging others to lodge such cases.