The Bombay High Court on Friday admonished the conduct of police officers in registering multiple FIRs with identical charges against a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) lawmaker Anand Paranjape for his remarks against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde [Anand Paranjape v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.]
A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and PK Chavan was hearing a petition filed by Paranjape, a Member of Parliament (MP) seeking clubbing of 11 FIRs registered against him and others for their alleged remarks against the CM during protests which had followed the suspension of another NCP leader from the Maharashtra Legislature Winter Session held at Nagpur.
The bench took exception to the conduct of Maharashtra police which had proceeded to register 11 FIRs against the leader and others for identical offences.
“Why should an accused apply for bail in each of the 11 cases when there should not have been so many cases in the first place. This has to stop. Ultimately who suffers is common man,” the Court said.
The Court asked whether the only way to deter police officers from registering multiple FIRs would be to impose costs on them recoverable from their salary.
“Will they learn only if there should be costs on police officers which should be recovered from their salaries?”, the Court asked.
During the hearing on Friday, advocates Suhas Oak and Vinod Utekar appearing for Paranjape, contended that all the FIRs arose from a single cause of action which was a political agitation.
They apprised the Court that after the protest by the petitioner and others against Shinde, an FIR was registered at one police station.
Subsequently, 10 more FIRs were registered at different police stations at the behest of Shinde's followers.
All the FIRs, however, were registered within the jurisdiction of Thane police commissionerate, which is Shinde’s constituency.
The allegation in the FIR was that the protestors had defamed Shinde and uploaded the protest videos on social media portals to create unrest in the State.
The Court asked additional public prosecutor Prajakta Shinde how all the complaints could be maintained in different police stations since they were identical.
“How all these complaints are maintained at four different stations? It has to be one singular complaint since they are identical. All are same. You close from all other police stations and keep it at one. Take instructions” the Court told the prosecutor.
While time was granted to take instructions, the prosecutor made a statement that no coercive action will be taken against the MP till the next date of hearing, which is on January 18.