Calcutta High Court: Expressing that, “Time has come that every dutiful citizen of the country must realize their duties and accountability to the society and must refrain from taking the law in their own hands”, Division Bench of Harish Tandon and Rabindranath Samanta, JJ., held that,

Destruction of the public property has a ramification on the society and the taxpayers are burdened for no fault on their part. The charging sections would evince that not only the Public Officers but the public properties have also been destroyed.

Petitioners filed the instant application for anticipatory bail while apprehending the arrest under Sections 147/148/149/325/332/353/435/427 of the Penal Code, 1860 read with Section 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Section 9 of the West Bengal Maintenance of Public Order Act.

Matter of Great Concern

 The citizens of this country took the law into their own hands and vandalized not only the Police Officers while discharging their duties but also the public property.

Further, the Police Officers intercepted a person ferrying the sacred bull for performing the rituals and more than 100 people encircled the Police Station/Post to create a ruckus pressurizing the Police Officers to succumb to their unreasonable demand and refrain from discharging their statutory functions. The petitioners are the accomplices who accompanied such hooligans and according to the learned Advocate for the State they damaged public property.

High Court expressed that, in recent times, a tendency has developed in the society that if any action is taken by a Public Officer in pursuit of discharge of his duty, the mass gatherings are eminently done not only to create pressure upon them to desist them from discharging their pious duties but also to avoid any action to be taken by such Public Officers. Even sometimes public properties are damaged, and they do not owe any responsibility nor there is any mechanism for accountability towards the burden on the public exchequer. They appeared to have escaped easily as no overt act has been disclosed because of the large gatherings of the people and sometimes it is projected as an act of defence in the trial.

Court opined that petitioners should not be treated differently as equality and equal protection is the hallmark of the Constitutional vision.

However, Bench expressed serious concern on the role of such gatherings interfering with the carriage of the statutory duties by the Public Officers.

In view of the above discussion, anticipatory bail was allowed. [Ashish Singha, In re., 2021SCC OnLine Cal 2913, decided on 11-11-2021]

Advocates before the Court:

Mr Avinaba Patra, Advocate ……for the Petitioners

Mr Sudip Ghosh, Advocate

Mr Bitosok Banerjee, Advocate ……for the State

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