INDIA. Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday criticised the Thane police for registering multiple FIRs with identical charges against a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP, Anand Paranjape, for his remarks against Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde,
A division bench comprising Justices Revati Mohite Dere and PK Chavan heard a petition filed by Paranjape, seeking the clubbing of 11 FIRs registered against him and others, at different police stations in Thane district, for their alleged remarks against Shinde during protests against the suspension of NCP MLA and state NCP President Jayant Patil from the recent winter session of the Maharashtra Legislature held in Nagpur.
The bench took exception to the conduct of the police, which had proceeded to register 11 FIRs against the leader and others for identical offenses.
During the hearing, advocates Suhas Oak and Vinod Utekar, appearing for Paranjape, pointed out that all the FIRs arose from political agitation and were a single cause of action. After the protest against Shinde, the FIR was registered at one police station.
Subsequently, ten more FIRs were registered at different police stations at the behest of Shinde’s followers. All the FIRs fall within the jurisdiction of the Thane police commissionerate, which is Shinde’s assembly constituency. The petitioners claimed that the protestors had defamed Shinde and uploaded the protest videos on social media portals to create unrest in the state.
“How all these complaints are maintained at four different stations? It has to be one singular complaint since they are identical. All are the same. You close to all other police stations and keep it at one. Take instructions”, the court said and asked additional public prosecutor Prajakta Shinde how all the complaints could be maintained in different police stations since they were identical.
The court asked whether the only way to deter police officers from registering multiple FIRs would be to impose costs on them that could be recovered from their salaries.
The court directed the additional public prosecutor to follow the government’s instructions and granted time for it. The prosecutor stated that no coercive action would be taken against Paranjape until the next hearing date on January 18.
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