Two days after the Bombay high court (HC) quashed the case against Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, home minister RR Patil said that based on the opinion given by the legal department, the state has decided to not pursue the case against him.
In 2008, the police had lodged a case against Thackeray, accusing him of delivering a speech against north Indians, which allegedly led to violence in the city. The MNS chief had, then, approached the HC. His lawyers said that the police had not taken the mandatory sanction from the state government before initiating action against him, which set aside his case.
“Following an FIR from the police, the state government has to give a go-ahead to fix charges in this case filed under 153 (A). But we usually get an opinion from the legal department. In this case, we were asked to not file a case as his speech did not qualify for it in totality,” said Patil on Thursday.
After receiving the opinion of the legal department, the home department, on July 22, 2008, wrote to the police asking them to refrain from framing charges. “By then, Thackeray had challenged the FIR in the court. The home department maintained a status quo,” said an officer.
This procedure is specific to cases filed under section 153 and 253 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). These sections pertain to making speeches that instigate enmity between two groups, arouse religious sentiments and threaten national integrity.
In such instances, the police file a case on prima facie evidence. It is only after the government gives permission that section 196 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC) — wherein the accused can be charged for criminal offence against the state — can be evoked.