"Why do you need to arrest him if you are saying that the investigation is complete and you are filing the chargesheet?" was what vacation judge Justice Rajendra Sawant asked the police while staying the arrest of diamond merchant Bharat Shah on the permission granted by Borivli metropolitan magistrate.
Shah had approached the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of the order issued by the metropolitan magistrate on May 11 granting permission to the Aarey Colony police station to arrest him in a case registered against the diamond merchant under the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act [SCSTPA Act].
Aarey Colony police station had registered the case against Shah on a complaint lodged by Lahanu Damu Pathare (24) working as a watchman with the Royal Palms. Pathare had alleged that Shah and few other persons came in three cars at the Royal Palms on February 8 at around 12.30 pm and allegedly started abusing the security staff. When Pathare tried to intervene, Shah allegedly insulted and humiliated him hurling abuses at him for being a person of the backward caste.
On May 11 when the police was to file a chargesheet in the case, Shah had sought an exemption. However, the magistrate neither took the exemption application on record nor accepted the chargesheet and directed the police to arrest Shah, states Shah's petition before the HC.
Shah, who had bought 25 acres of land in Royal Palms in 1993, had filed a case against the original owner, Amir Nancy, two weeks prior to the incident, saying he (Nancy) had snatched the land from him.
Shah's lawyer Shrikant Shivade told the HC on Monday that it was Nancy's modus operandi to lodge false cases against persons through his watchman under the SCSTPA Act to harass them. "Nancy had lodged a similar complaint against one Shrikant Parekh, who had also purchased land in the Royal Palms from him. However, the metropolitan court had found the complaint to be false," argued Shivade.
Nancy invokes the stringent SCSTPA Act against persons and says it is a misuse and abuse of the process of law, added Shivade.
Under the Prevention of Atrocities Act it is a criminal offence to subject any member of schedule caste or schedule tribe to verbal humiliation or abuse in "public view". Anyone charged with doing so is tried in a sessions court if the matter reaches trial.
Shah had earlier filed a petition to quash the FIR against him on May 3. Both the petitions will come up for hearing on June 6.