A Maharashtra court on Saturday discharged Union minister Narayan Rane in a case related to a statement that he had made about former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, PTI reported.

In August 2021, Rane had claimed that Thackeray had forgotten the year of Independence during his August 15 speech. He had said that he would have slapped the former chief minister for this.

The Union minister’s comment led to sharp reactions from the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray). In Nashik, party workers party had hurled stones at the BJP’s office in the city. Some others, on their way to Rane’s home in Mumbai, had clashed with BJP workers and the police.

Rane was subsequently arrested on August 25, 2021, but was granted bail hours later. The police had filed a case against him under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 505(2) (statements promoting enmity between classes) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) of the Indian Penal Code.

On Saturday, a magistrate court in Raigad observed that while Rane’s remarks were unparliamentary, they did not amount to promoting enmity under provisions of law as he did not target any community.

The court also ruled that material and documents on records in the case did not disclose the existence of all the ingredients of offences against the union minister.

The judge said that Rane’s statement – “If it was me, I would have slapped him [Thackeray]” – did not constitute an immediate and concrete threat in the form of criminal intimidation.

The court said that due to these reasons, the charges against the Bharatiya Janata Party were found to be groundless.