Saturday, March 9, 2024

SIT probe ordered, Patna not a safe place for anyone including Advocates: Patna High Court

"If, in the city of Patna, the Advocates are assaulted by some goons at about 10:00 P.M., this Court cannot accept the incident as an isolated incident, but prima facie holds that the city is not a safe place for any people to reside," observed Patna High Court in Abhishek Kumar Srivastava v. State of Bihar. The order was passed on March 5, 2024.   

Justice Bibek Chaudhuri of Patna High Court observed that the Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna is directed to form a Special Investigating Team (S.I.T.) with two other Officers not below the rank of Sub Divisional Police Officer, who are in no way connected with Jakkanpur Police Station to investigate into the case. While investigating into the case under the supervision of Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna shall consider the observation by this Court in the light of the F.I.R. submitted by the petitioner as to whether offence punishable under Sections 148/149/324/326/307 of the I.P.C. are to be added or not. At the same time, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna is requested to render all possible help to the petitioner, the injured and other Advocate inhabitants of the said house, so that they can at least stay without fear of being implicated in some heinous offences involving offences against women in future and until further order no coercive step shall be taken against the accused persons
in connection with Jakkanpur P.S. Case No. 110 of 2024. 

The Court clarified that every citizen has a right to lodge complaint against the wrong doer, but it is expected from the Police authority that the Police shall take action against the wrong doer on ascertainment of fact as to whether such incident actually took place or not.

Senior counsel on behalf of the petitioner being assisted by almost all the counsels of the Patna High Court, cutting across the lines of their affiliation to the respective Associations insisted that the Court to take up the case pertaining to the assault on Abhishek Kumar Srivastava, an Advocate of Patna High Court who was staying in a rented accommodation at Patna within the jurisdiction of the Jakkanpur Police Station. There was some altercation on March 1, 2024 between the petitioner his co-tenants Advocates, who used to reside in the same rented accommodation and the landlord, over parking of vehicle. After sometime of altercation, Nitish Kumar, the landlord pounced back over the informant and his associates being other Advocates of the Court, who reside in the same tenanted premises with some unknown goons. The petitioner was assaulted and his friend Ranveer Parwat, Advocate was also severely assaulted with the help of kitchen knife, as a result of which, he received bleeding injury on the left eye brow affecting his left eye also. They were initially medically treated in a local hospital. Thereafter they were shifted to Patna Medical College and Hospital. The informant went to lodge F.I.R. to the Police Station. Initially, Police was reluctant to accept the F.I.R., but on much persuasion F.I.R. was received and a case was registered bearing Jakkanpur P.S. Case No. 109 of 2024, under Sections 323/308 of the I.P.C. 

As a follow up action, the landlord was called to the Police Station and he was released under Section 41(A) of the Cr.P.C. In order to save the landlord and the goons, who were involved in severely assaulting the Advocates, a complaint was made to be lodged by the wife of the landlord bearing Jakkanpur Police Station Case No. 110 of 2024, under Section 354 of the I.P.C. against the petitioner and his Advocate friends, who reside in the same tenanted premises. 

The Court's order observes, "When the F.I.R. discloses an assault upon Advocates with the help of a kitchen knife, which is a sharp cutting weapon. There is no explanation as to why at least F.I.R. was not lodged under Section 326 of the I.P.C. considering the gravity of injury. Secondly, when the F.I.R. discloses that the unarmed young persons pursuing their profession as Advocates, were attacked by the landlord with a bunch of anti-socials and specially, when one of the Advocate was assaulted by sharp cutting weapon on the most vital part of the body, why on due consideration of the prima facie intention of the accused persons, no case under Section 307 of the I.P.C. was instituted. Thirdly, why no case was instituted under Sections 147/148/149 of the I.P.C. when on perusal of the F.I.R. itself it is found that the assailants came in pursuance of their common object to cause physical assault, grievous hurt and in such a manner where intention can be prima facie ascertained of attempt to commit murder."

The order records that on the contrary, a case under Sections 323 and 308 of the I.P.C. was registered against the landlord and other unknown persons. The landlord was called to the Police Station and he was released under Section 41 (A) of the Cr.P.C. after interrogation. 

The Senior Counsel for the petitioner contended that this is not a fit case where the accused persons should be released on an undertaking under Section 41(A) of the Cr.P.C. 

The order records that "The legal profession as well as the duties discharged by the learned Advocates are the onerous duty of helping the third pillar of democracy in dispensation of justice. When from the facts and circumstances, it is ascertained that some young Advocates residing in a tenanted flat have been pursuing their profession in their initial stage, this Court is absolutely clueless to note as to why one or two of them would be assaulted by the landlord and his associates, under whom they stay." 

It further records that "The very registration of case presumably suggests that the Police authority attached to Jakkanpur Police Station has taken the side of respondent no. 9 being the landlord to this unfortunate junior Advocates. Therefore, this Court considers it absolutely necessary to relieve the Police Officer attached the Jakkanpur Police Station of the investigation of the cases filed both by the petitioner and the wife of the landlord."

The order reads: "Let, a copy of this order be immediately sent to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna (respondent no. 5) for information and compliance."

The Court directed that the Police attached to Jakkanpur Police Station shall refrain from Investigating into the cases any further and there shall not be any recording in the case diary from 2:15 P.M. of today i.e. on 5th March, 2024. If, any such recording takes place in the case diary that shall be considered as nonest. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna is also requested to preserve the C.C.T.V. footage of the locality and Jakkanpur Police Station.

This case was discussed during a discussion on "Human Rights Violations and Law: Ground Reality and Challenges" and a memorial lecture in Patna.



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