Sunday, February 5, 2023

Rajasthan HC sets aside FIR, calls out state police abuse of power, imposes penalty of Rs 10 lakh on Rajasthan Police

The Rajasthan DGP was asked by the Court to take appropriate departmental action against all police officials involved in the matter.

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The Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday allowed the petitions of a bottling company owners and employees alleging abuse of power by the Rajasthan Police and quashed an FIR filed in Bhiwadi Police Station. Justice Sanjeev Prakash Sharma also imposed a Rs 10 lakh penalty on police authorities to be paid to the Golden Bottling Company company which had not been allowed to do business since October 2020.

In the order, Justice Sharma found the investigation, seizure and entry in the factory premises by the concerned local SHO Jitendra Solanki, Police Station Bhiwadi was without authority and in abuse of powers available under the Police Act. He could not have acted like an Excise Inspector, more so, when the Excise Officer was
available, under the Excise Act, the Police has to act in assistance
of the Excise Officer as well as in alternate to the Excise Officer,
however, it cannot be vice-versa namely; the Police cannot first
raid the premise of the manufacturing unit and thereafter call the
Excise Officer for its help.

The Judge noted, “In the present case, the Excise Officer must have apprised the SHO of the issuing of license to the Company but inspite thereof, the SHO registered FIR mentioning that the Company does not have IMFL license although the license
of IMFL duly renewed from time to time upto March, 2021 is
available on record in the case diary.”

The arrest conduct is clearly illegal, the order said, noting that no notice under Section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was served on the petitioners either.

Justice Sharma noted, “The overzealous attempt of the SHO supported by his superior officers, is found to be illegal and such exercise of power by the Police officials is found to be an action of harassment, atrocity and is a case of Police atrocity for which the petitioners would be free to take up appropriate remedy in law.”

The Rajasthan DGP was asked by the Court to take appropriate departmental action against all police officials involved in the

The petitioners, Puneet Solanki, Abhishek Kharb, Surendra Solanki, Ashok Solanki, Ankit Gulania, Akshay, Pradeep Mishra and others, had moved Court against the action of the SHO, Police Station, Bhiwandi alleging that an illegal and ill-motivated raid was conducted on the factory premises of the Golden Bottling Company, Bhiwandi which is engaged in manufacturing and bottling Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) as well as country liquor in terms of the license issued to it by the Rajasthan Excise Department.

It is alleged that without there being any complaint from any person, the SHO registered an FIR bearing no. 615/2020 wherein he stated that while he was on patrolling duty, he received information through informant that in the garb of producing country liquor, was manufacturing IMFL illegally.

A raid was carried out on the factory premises at 1:30 pm. The lodged FIR states that the company does not have any license for IMFL and it was alleged that the workers in the company informed that under the guise of country made liquor license, different brands of liquor were being manufactured without authority and were being smuggled to Bihar and Gujarat.

The Excise Officer who had accompanied the Police in the aforesaid raid registered another FIR against the company under section 58C of the Rajasthan Excise Act, 1950 alleging that the work has been done in the night and there was violation of conditions of license.

Further, the major shareholder of the company was arrested without serving notice under Section 41 of Code of Criminal Procedure. The petitioners submitted that the company hold a valid license for manufacturing IMFL as well as valid license for manufacturing and sale of country liquor which were shown by the manager of the company to the Police and inspite of raid was conducted.

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The petitioners contended that the police officers falsely implicated the petitioners for the unreasonable reasons like health warning not found, it is stated that the goods were not being out for sale or ready for distribution and the work of packaging was not completed. Furthermore, the petitioners stated the arrest unjustifiable and illegal, seeks for the direction of this to quash the said FIR.

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