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FB arrest: cops suspended, magistrate moved

A week after two girls were arrested for a Facebook post on Mumbai shutdown for Bal Thackeray's funeral, the high court today transferred the magistrate and Maharashtra police suspended a SPolice and a SI in Thane.
By HT Correspondent | Agencies, Mumbai
UPDATED ON NOV 27, 2012 07:47 PM IST

Somebody finally has had to pay for the arrest of two women in Maharashtra for a Facebook post has: a magistrate has been transferred and two police officials have been suspended.

SP (Thane rural) Ravindra Sengaonkar and senior police inspector Shrikant Pingle have been suspended in the case, state's home minister RR Patil told reporters. He said action has been taken after obtaining legal advice.

"There was no need to charge the girls under wrong sections," Patil said, adding that there was no need to take hasty action (against the girls).

A week after the women were arrested in Palghar commenting on Facebook against Mumbai shutting down for Bal Thackeray's funeral on November 18, the Bombay High Court has transferred the magistrate who had sent them to judicial custody and later granted them bail.

The transfer orders were issued on Monday by the Registrar of the high court following which it was communicated to the Home Department, Chief Judicial Magistrate and Judicial Magistrate First Class R G Bagade.

The order said, "Judicial Magistrate First Class at Palghar R G Bagade is hereby transferred in the same position to Jalgaon with immediate effect."

Separately, the Maharashtra police has suspended a Superintendent of Police and a Sub Inspector in Thane, where Palghar is located.

The girls, Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan, were arrested on last Monday after Dadha posted a Facebook status lamenting the Mumbai shutdown for Thackeray's funeral on November 18 and Renu 'liked' it.

They were arrested under IPC sections 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 505(2) IPC (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) and the IT ACT.

Later, the girls were produced before the magistrate, who sent them to judicial custody and later granted them bail on Rs. 15,000 each.

The incident had sparked off a debate in legal circles with some lawyers opining that instead of being granted bail, the girls should have been discharged from the case as they were booked under wrong charges.

Also, the Maharashtra government had instituted an inquiry headed by Inspector General (Konkan Range) Sukhvindar Singh, who has submitted a report on the arrests to the DGP office.

The report has indicted policemen involved in initiating action against the girls and observed that the arrests could have been avoided following which Maharashtra government promised to act against the erring.

(With PTI inputs)

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