Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court: In a Criminal Writ Petition filed by Raj Thackeray, leader of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Nitin B. Suryawanshi, J. quashed and set aside orders passed against the petitioner for alleged public property damage and violence arising out of a stone pelting incident of 2008.

The facts of the present matter are that on 21-10-2008, party workers of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, a political party, led by Raj Thackeray, suddenly came before a state transport bus, and started shouting slogans after which, they pelted stones due to which the front window of the bus was damaged causing loss of Rs. 5000/-. Three more buses were damaged by them.

An order dated 12-05-2023 dismissed the application filed by Raj Thackeray for discharge under Section 239 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). This order was unsuccessfully challenged by him through a Criminal Revision Application.

It was contended that the Trial Judge and Sessions Judge had erred in rejecting the discharge application filed by Raj Thackeray because he was arrested and produced before the Metropolitan Magistrate as well as the Judicial Magistrate before being released on bail, and it cannot be said that he had abetted the crime. Counsel on behalf of Raj Thackeray also submitted that the alleged provocative speech had neither been placed on record nor had it been annexed to the charge sheet which is why it could not be said that the petitioner had given provocative speech.

However, it was contended by opposing counsel that since Raj Thackeray’s name had been used while raising slogans, ingredients of abetment were present.

The Court said that the present case was squarely covered by two previous orders which were passed by a division bench of this Court as a result of applications filed by Raj Thackeray. The first order stated that the applicant was made accused in this case only because it was alleged that he made a speech somewhere else because of which his followers got excited and committed offence. Abetment of offence could not be made out as per Section 107 of the Penal Code. It was also held that the Magistrate should have refused to take cognizance of the case since the nature of utterance in the speech was neither brought on record nor in the charge sheet.

It was also stated in the other order that the inclusion of Raj Thackeray’s name as an accused was erroneous. The Court held that the charges against Raj Thackeray were groundless due to the absence of any evidence to show instigation on his part and allowed the writ petition while quashing the impugned orders.

[Raj Shrikant Thackeray v. State of Maharashtra, 2024 SCC OnLine Bom 1131, Decided on 18-04-2024]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioner – Sr. Adv. Rajendra Shirodkar, Adv. Sayaji Nangre, Adv. Arun Shejawal

For Respondent – APP S.R. Wakle

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