Bombay High Court: Stating that, “Great power comes with greater responsibility”, the Division Bench of Prasanna B. Varale and S.M. Modak, JJ., expressed that, the expectation of responsible behaviour or responsible conduct from those persons who are active in public life cannot be an extra expectation but would be a basic expectation.

The present petition was filed for quashment of an FIR registered for the commission of an offence under Section 353 of the penal Code, 1860.

Petitioner’s Counsel submitted that now the crime was registered for the commission of an offence under Section 153-A read with 34 of the Penal Code, with Sections 37(1) and 135 of the Maharashtra Police Act.

Both the petitioners were said to be active in Social and Political Life.

Petitioners stated that they would be reciting religious verses i.e. Hanuman Chalisa in front of the personal residence of Uddhav Thackeray, who was the Chief Minister of the State of Maharashtra. The Police approached the petitioners and informed them that they should not indulge in any such activities and a Notice under Section 149 was hence issued.

In spite of the service of the notice, both the petitioners gave the statements in visual media due to which there was the apprehension of reaction in the society and the acts of the petitioners and statements resulted in a serious threat to law and order, as such action being initiated against the petitioners.

As per the report, the police officials proceeded over the effecting arrest of the petitioners, when the petitioners resisted the said act and deter the Police Officials from discharging their duties, the offence under Section 353 IPC was attracted.

Analysis and Decision

High Court stated that the declaration of the petitioners that they would recite religious verses either in the personal residence of another person or even at a public place is firstly,  not only breaching the personal liberty of another person but also encroachment upon another person’s personal liberty and secondly, if a declaration is made with particular religious verses would be recited on the public street, the State government is justified in carrying an apprehension that such act would result in disturbance of law and Order.

Further, observing that as the second F.I.R. was registered against the Petitioners attracting of Section 353 of the Penal Code, in case the State Government was desirous of initiating any action including the action against the Petitioners in pursuant to the F.I.R. No. 506 of 2022, the Officials of the State Government shall issue 72 hours’ notice to the Petitioners before taking such action.

In view of the above discussion, a petition was dismissed. [Navneet Ravi Rana v. State of Maharashtra, WP No. 1286 of 2022, decided on 25-4-2022]

Advocates before the Court:

Mr Rizwan Merchant a/w Mr Faiz Merchant a/w Mr Faisal F. Shaikh – Advocate for the Petitioner
Spl. PP Pradip P. Gharat a/w Ms M. H. Mhatre – APP for the Respondent- State

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