Facebook threat to Fadnavis: HC strikes down order remanding accused to police custody | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

Facebook threat to Fadnavis: HC strikes down order remanding accused to police custody

Mar 07, 2024 08:00 AM IST

Bombay HC sets aside additional sessions court order remanding Yogesh Sawant to police custody for 5 days without notice, citing violation of fundamental rights.

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday set aside an order from the additional sessions court in Mazgaon which remanded Yogesh Sawant, who was arrested for allegedly posting a video on Facebook threatening deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, to police custody for five days without issuing him a notice.

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Justice R N Laddha, in a single bench ruling, deemed the sessions court’s order as a violation of fundamental rights and opted to set it aside. The court emphasised the absence of a notice to Sawant despite his existing judicial custody, refraining from delving into detailed arguments and focusing solely on this procedural lapse.

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“Despite the possibility of promptly issuing and serving notice to the petitioner, no such notice was issued, and he was not granted an opportunity for a hearing. This omission goes against the fundamental principles of natural justice,” observed the court.

Sawant, represented by his counsels, advocates Prashant Aher and Vipul Dada Patil, approached the court on Monday challenging the validity and propriety of a March 2 order by the additional sessions judge at Mazgaon sessions court. This order annulled his judicial custody without affording him a hearing.

Sawant was arrested on February 29, and presented before the Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate which remanded him to judicial custody with his bail plea scheduled for March 2. However, on the same day, without notice to Sawant, the Santacruz police station contested his judicial custody before the sessions court, which remanded him to police custody until March 7, again without a hearing. His petition aimed to set aside this order, arguing that established legal procedures were not followed.

According to his petition, the impugned order lacked justification as it deviated from established legal procedure. Additionally, Sawant’s custodial interrogation was deemed unnecessary since the video in question was already in the public domain, and his involvement merely entailed uploading it on social media. He argued that the FIR was politically motivated and stemmed from ideological differences.

On the contrary, the state, represented by Chief Public Prosecutor HS Venegavkar, staunchly defended the additional sessions judge’s order. He contended that Sawant had not challenged his arrest or the subsequent remand order issued by the learned Magistrate. Venegavkar asserted the ongoing nature of the investigation, emphasising the necessity of remand to recover crucial evidence.

However, the court deemed the omissions grave and set aside the lower court’s orders. “Given the above, the impugned order dated 2 March 2024 is set aside as not sustainable in law. The petition stands allowed accordingly,” the court’s order stated.

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