The special court under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) cannot decide whether the stringent Act can be applied to a matter before taking cognisance of the case, the Bombay High Court has said.
A division bench of justice DD Sinha and justice VK Tahilramani on Monday set aside an order passed by a Thane special court while hearing a petition filed by Amol Patil, brother of Prafull Patil, a Congress corporator from Mira-Bhayander who was murdered in May, and an appeal filed by the state.
Patil and the state had challenged the special court’s order of October 12, 2010, quashing the approval given by inspector general (Konkan range) Parambir Singh to try four accused under MCOCA for allegedly murdering Patil.
Patil’s counsel, Ashutosh Kumbhkoni, argued that the special judge did not have the jurisdiction, authority or power to quash previous approval granted by the inspector general under under the Act.
Kumbhkoni argued that the power of the special court to decide whether MCOCA is applicable or not will come into force only after it takes cognisance of the case. In this case, the special court took cognisance of the case on November 26 and the order quashing Singh’s prior approval could not have been passed on October 12, Kumbhkoni argued.
The government also supported the petitioner’s argument. “There is no provision in the MCOCA, which allows such quashing,” additional public prosecutor Aruna Kamath-Pai said.
Prafull Patil, who was a corporator in the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation since 2002, was shot on May 8, 2010. He succumbed to his injuries the same day.
His murder was allegedly the fallout of his dispute with a person named Vishal Mhatre and his father, Chandrakant, over a 980-square-metre plot at Bhayander.
The Thane police arrested the two alleged assailants, Ajay Pandey and Gulam Shaikh, in June. The police later arrested Vishal.
Vishal challenged the inspector general’s approval for invoking MCOCA in the special court.