‘He isn’t insane’: Assam judge questions police charges against Jignesh Mevani

Barpeta sessions judge Aparesh Chakravarty compared the woman police officer’s statement before a magistrate to the FIR registered against Jignesh Mevani and concluded that the complainant had “deposed a different story”.
Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani was first arrested by a team of Assam Police from Gujarat’s Palanpur town on the night of April 20 and brought to Assam (Vipin Kumar/HT File PHOTO)
Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani was first arrested by a team of Assam Police from Gujarat’s Palanpur town on the night of April 20 and brought to Assam (Vipin Kumar/HT File PHOTO)
Published on Apr 29, 2022 08:49 PM IST
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Guwahati: A sessions court in Assam’s Barpeta on Friday granted bail to Gujarat legislator Jignesh Mevani on a 1,000 bond, observing that the assault case against him was “manufactured” to hold Gujarat legislator in detention for a longer period, abusing the process of the court.

“No sane person will ever try to outrage the modesty of a lady police officer in presence of two male police officers and there is nothing in the record to hold that the accused Shri Jignesh Mevani is an insane person,” Aparesh Chakravarty, Barpeta district and sessions judge, said in his bail order.

Mevani will be taken from Barpeta to Kokrajhar district on Saturday to complete legal formalities for his release, his lawyers said, adding that the police team, which was grilling him for the last few days, has handed him over to the authorities following the court’s stinging remarks.

Jignesh Mevani, a legislator from Vadgam, was arrested on Monday soon after he got bail from a Kokrajhar court in a case of alleged offensive tweets against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mevani was remanded in police custody for 5 days in Barpeta for allegedly assaulting a woman sub-inspector in a police vehicle.

According to the FIR registered at Barpeta Road police station on April 21, Mevani, while being brought from Guwahati airport to Kokrajhar after his arrest in Gujarat a day earlier had allegedly used slang words directed at the woman police officer of Kokrajhar police station, who was also present in the vehicle.

The FIR was filed under sections 294 (singing, reciting, uttering obscene song, ballad or words in or near public place), 323 (causing hurt), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty) and 354 (assault or criminal force on woman with the intention of disrobing or compelling her to be naked) of IPC.

The court held there was no evidence about commission of offence under section 354 and the statement of the two male police officers accompanying the woman police officer when the incident allegedly happened “cannot be treated as admissible”.

The sessions judge also noted that the FIR did not mention the slang words alleged used by Mevani against the officer and held it can’t be an obscene act as per Section 294 of IPC. It also added that a moving government vehicle cannot be termed a “public place” as per the same section of IPC.

“Pointing of fingers at the first informant (complainant) with intent to frighten her and pushing her down into her seat with force cannot be held to be using criminal force by the accused with the intent to prevent the first informant from discharging her duties as a public servant,” the order read.

“The alleged pushing down of the first informant into her seat also cannot be held to have been done with intent to outrage her modesty and that too, in presence of two other police officers,” it added.

Besides, the judge also compared the woman police officer’s statement before a magistrate to the FIR registered against Mevani and concluded that the complainant had “deposed a different story”.

The court also observed that the officer didn’t mention about Mevani using his hands to outrage her modesty and there was no mention of utterances of obscene words at her. The complainant mentioned that the legislator abused her in his language, “which she definitely did not understand”.

“In view of the above testimony of the victim woman, the instant case is manufactured for the purpose of keeping the accused Shri Jignesh Mevani in detention for a longer period, abusing the process of the court and the law,” the order stated.

Expressing surprise at the police registering a fresh case against Mevani for an offence when he was in police custody where no one else was present, the court linked it with ongoing cases of alleged police encounters in Assam and requested the Gauhati high court to consider whether the issue can be taken up as a PIL “to curb the ongoing police excesses in the state”.

The Gauhati high court is at present hearing a petition filed by advocate Arif Jwadder in December last year alleging 80 incidents of fake encounters in the state since May 2021 that have resulted in 28 deaths and left 48 injured. The figure has since crossed to over 30 deaths and nearly 80 injuries in such incidents.

Mevani was arrested by Assam Police in Palanpur town of Gujarat on the night of April 20, and flown to Guwahati the following morning over an alleged “offensive” tweet on Prime Minister Modi. The Congress leader was arrested on the basis of an FIR registered on a complaint by Bodoland Territorial Region executive member and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) functionary Arup Dey on April 18.

He was remanded in police custody for three days by a Kokrajhar court on April 21 and a day’s judicial remand on April 24. While the Kokrajhar court granted him bail on Monday, Mevani was rearrested by Barpeta police in connection with the assault case.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Utpal is an assistant editor based in Guwahati. He covers all eight states of North-East and was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times .

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