Saturday, December 9, 2023

2008 protests: Bombay High Court directs trial court to hear Raj Thackeray discharge application afresh

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The Bombay High Court has quashed an order which was passed by a Maharashtra court refusing discharge to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray in a 2008 case arising out of protest initiated by his party.

The single-judge bench of Justice Amit Borkar directed the Sessions Court at Islampur for hearing the discharge application afresh.

The incident had taken place in 2008 across districts in Maharashtra after MNS workers had staged a state-wide agitation demanding preference to Maharashtrian youth in railway jobs. Thackeray was arrested in complaints filed over this agitation. His party workers carried out further agitation protesting their chief’s arrest.

In one such FIR registered at Sangli in 2008 alleging unlawful assembly and breach of peace, Thackeray filed a discharge application in 2013 at the stage of framing of charges.

The application was filed before a Magistrate who rejected the application and summoned Thackeray to appear for framing of charges.

When Thackeray failed to appear, the Magistrate issued a non-bailable warrant against him. Thackeray challenged the rejection of discharge plea before a Sessions Court at Islampur, Sangli. 

The sessions judge also rejected the same leading to the present plea before the High Court.

Senior Advocate Rajendra Shirodkar, appearing for Thackeray, pointed out that the sessions judge’s order lacked proper reasoning and did not refer to the material submitted to it in the chargesheet. 

The additional public prosecutor opposed the plea pointing out that discharge could be decided after all witnesses had deposed.

The Court, after considering arguments of both sides, quashed and set aside the sessions court order and directed that the discharge plea be decided afresh.

The Court also asked the sessions court to consider the non-bailable warrant if and when Thackeray seeks a stay on the same. 

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