The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the state government to show cause by December 11 as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against it for invoking the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against a minor ignoring its order.
Thane resident Ashish Pande, was arrested in December 2004 for allegedly stealing two-wheelers. In April 2005, he was booked under the stringent MCOCA. The act was invoked in his case despite his father, Harishankar Pande, telling the police that Ashish was just 17-years-old. But the police contended that Ashish was found to be a part of an organised crime syndicate specialising in stealing two-wheelers.
Acting on the father’s petition in October 2005, the HC directed the police to send Ashish to a juvenile remand home. After receiving conflicting medical reports, which stated that Ashish was around 20-years-old, a division bench on October 1, 2006 directed the police to produce him before the special MCOCA court within two weeks, or by October 14 to decide his age. Instead, the police produced Ashish before the MCOCA court on October 20 — six days after the court’s deadline.
Ashish’ advocate, A Sutar, then filed a petition in the High Court seeking contempt of court action be initiated against the government and the police for failing to produce a juvenile before the special court to ascertain his age.
Observing that there was prima facie case of contempt, a division bench of Justice SB Mhase and Justice SR Sathe directed the Maharashtra government, Deputy Commissioner of Police D Karale and senior inspector of Thane police station to show cause by December 11.
Meanwhile, the MCOCA court has finished examining four witnesses on the case and has reserved its order until next week.