'A Lawyer Is Behind Bars; Serious Matter' : Bombay High Court Raps Police Over Inconsistent Answers On Lawyer's Arrest
19 May 2021
On Monday, the Bombay High Court took seriously the police's shifting assertions about a lawyer's claimed illegal detention and false involvement in an abduction and extortion case filed on his client's complaint last month. "Tell them that if they play any mischief with the court, we will not spare them," Justice SJ Kathawalla, who presided over the division bench, told Chief Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare, as he directed the Kharghar police in Navi Mumbai to file their affidavit. For allegedly attempting to steal Rs 3 million from his client and then kidnapping him, the Kharghar police detained attorney Vimal Umeshchandra Jha for offences punishable under IPC sections 323, 364A, 365, 387, 506 r/w 34. Jha was arrested on April 3 and brought before the Magistrate on April 5, according to the police. They later stated that he was apprehended on April 4th. The court was considering a criminal petition brought by Lawyers for a Just Society through Law Global, seeking Jha's immediate release, Rs 5 crore in compensation from faulty police officials, and guidelines to safeguard lawyers from police harassment. Jha has also filed another appeal, this time through counsel Prashant Pandey, asking for the FIR to be quashed. According to the plea, Jha's client was Navanth Gole, who is facing multiple criminal charges. During the hearing, the petitioner's lawyer, Advocate Subhash Jha, claimed that Jha was detained on April 3 but only appeared before the Magistrate on April 5, in contravention of section 57 of the CrPC and Article 22(2) of the Indian Constitution. When Justice Kathawalla inquired about the date of Jha's arrest, police Chief Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare initially stated April 3, 2021, only to later amend his answer to April 4, at 4.39 a.m. Thakare claimed he was arrested and brought to trial the next day. A lawyer has been imprisoned. Justice Kathawalla stated, "This is a very severe situation." According to Pandey, the lawyer is currently undergoing treatment at a private hospital for a variety of diseases. Furthermore, the tower location of his cellphone would disclose that he had been in the police station since 8.30 p.m. on April 3. The matter will now be heard by the bench on Wednesday.