Rane arrest: Legal experts don’t see “enough ingredients” in FIR; BJP targets Nashik CP

Published on Aug 24, 2021 10:05 PM IST

PUNE From controversial remarks made by Union minister Narayan Rane, to his arrest within a span of 24 hours, high drama unfolded in Maharashtra between Monday and Tuesday

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PUNE From controversial remarks made by Union minister Narayan Rane, to his arrest within a span of 24 hours, high drama unfolded in Maharashtra between Monday and Tuesday.

Legal and constitutional experts, however, differed on the action taken against Rane, even as they criticised his remarks.

As per Parliamentary privileges, a member of Parliament is not “liable for arrest or detention in prison, under a civil process, during the continuance of a session of the House or meetings of any committees, of which he may be a member, and during forty days before and after such session/meeting.”

However, members of parliament are provided no such freedom from arrest in criminal cases.

Citing legal provisions, BJP state unit chief Chandrakant Patil said the police can’t “just arrest Rane”.

Ulhas Bapat, constitutional expert, said the case is political and he doesn’t see enough material in sections invoked by police.

“First of all, Rane should not have made those remarks, which shows how the political discourse has been lowered in Maharashtra. However, If we have to see the sections in the FIR, I don’t see enough ingredients for the police,” said Bapat.

Criminal lawyer Milind Pawar said, “Police have discretion to act against persons making such remarks. Since the local court in Ratnagiri has rejected anticipatory bail, the judge has seen some merit in the FIR. At the same time, we should keep in mind that this is a political case and it will have political repercussions.”

The action (arrest) against Rane came following three FIRs filed against him, one each in Pune, Nashik and Mahad.

However, when Nashik police commissioner Deepak Pandey ordered Narayan Rane arrested for his “would have slapped the chief minister” remark, by constituting a team under a DCP level officer, it raised eyebrows and drew a strong reaction from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Former chief minister and leader of the opposition Devendra Fadnavis said the Nashik police commissioner’s approach seems motivated. “This would have been a non-cognisable offence. However, Nashik CP thinks he is above everyone. The way he has given directions for Rane’s arrest suggests his actions are motivated. The government on its part is misusing the police force,” said Fadnavis.

The detailed order by Pandey, who constituted a team under deputy commissioner Sanjay Barkund, was questioned by the BJP, in terms of his powers to arrest Rane, a union minister with privileges.

According to Pandey, the Nashik cybercell filed an FIR against Rane under section 500, 505(2), 153 (b) (1) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

“Considering the seriousness of the issue, I have asked DCP-level officer Sanjay Barkund to constitute a team and produce Rane before the court after arresting him,” said Pandey in a written order, a copy of which, is with Hindustan Times. The team under Barkund was dispatched to Chiplun where Rane is holding his Jan-Ashirwad yatra.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Rane said he would have “tightly slapped” chief minister Uddhav Thackeray for allegedly being ignorant of the country’s year of independence.

Earlier in the day, when arrest order was questioned by Rane and the BJP, Pandey clarified that rule of law will be followed and police will ensure privileges attached to the union minister will not be breached.

“We are following rule of law. Rane is a member of Rajya Sabha. Therefore, the Rajya Sabha president will be informed about Rane after his arrest. We will also inform the local court post our action. The decision to arrest and my order in this regard is based on the facts of the case and I would like to state here that police will ensure no privileges will be breached during our action,” said Pandey.

“No state government/authorities can arrest any Union cabinet minister as per the constitutional provisions. If the police go ahead and act, they will face the brunt of the court,” said Patil in Pune.

The BJP state unit chief also brought up previous controversial remarks by Thackeray, when no action was taken. “Uddhav Thackeray had used similar language against Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. His language at the Dussehra rally was equally objectionable,” said Patil.

An Indian Police Service officer of the 1999 batch, Pandey took charge as Nashik CP in September 2020. Earlier too, Pandey was in focus when he ordered a probe against Sena minister Anil Parab, under the same DCP Sanjay Barkund, who headed the team to arrest Rane.

Pandey had earlier, on May 27, ordered an inquiry into the allegation of corruption in transfers and posting against Parab and others, saying the probe will be completed soon. After the probe, Parab was given clean chit by the police.


    Yogesh Joshi is Assistant Editor at Hindustan Times. He covers politics, security, development and human rights from Western Maharashtra.

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