A court in Assam's Barpeta severely criticised the state police on Friday, 29 April, for trying to implicate Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani in a "manufactured case" of assault on a woman constable.
Meanwhile, Mevani, who was, granted bail by the Assam court, said it was cowardly of the central government to use a woman against him. The MLA completed his bail formalities on Saturday, and is scheduled to head home later in the day.
The Gujarat MLA had first been arrested in connection with a case over tweets on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Later, he was arrested in the "manufactured" assault case on 25 April just after he was granted bail by another court in Assam.
The Barpeta sessions court in its order granting bail to Mevani also requested the Gauhati High Court to take up a petition on its own against recent police excesses in the state.
What Did the Court Say?
The sessions court asked the Gauhati High Court to order the Assam Police to wear body cameras and install CCTV cameras in their vehicles to capture the sequence of events when an accused is taken into custody.
Sessions court judge Justice Aparesh Chakraborty said, "Converting our hard-earned democracy into a police state is simply unthinkable... If the instant case is accepted to be true and in view of the statement of the woman recorded by the magistrate...which is not, then we will have to rewrite the criminal jurisprudence of the country," NDTV reported.
The court further added, "Contrary to the FIR (first information report), the woman has given a different story before the learned magistrate... In view of the testimony of the woman, the instant case is manufactured for the purpose of keeping the accused Jignesh Mevani in detention for a longer period, abusing of the process of the court and the law."
Pointing out the excesses by the police, the court stated:
"To prevent registration of false FIR like the present one and to give credibility to the police version of occurrences...and police personnel firing and killing or injuring such accused, which has become a routine phenomenon in the state, the Hon'ble Gauhati High Court may perhaps consider directing the Assam Police to reform itself by taking some measures like directing every police personnel to wear body cameras, to install CCTV in vehicles while arresting an accused...Otherwise our state will become a police state, which the society can ill afford."
‘Govt Is a Coward': Mevani
After being released, Mevani said:
"In the second case, they cooked up a story to frame a case by using a woman. The government is such a coward that it used a woman against me. Such a coward act it is."
Mevani said he had full faith in the Indian judiciary and had to get bail.
"BJP & PM Modi arrested me just for a tweet & kept me in jail in Assam, what message do they want to give? This was a conspiracy planned at PM's office. I will fight against BJP & RSS all my life," he said, as per ANI.
"I am still proud of the tweet I did. In the tweet, I basically asked the Prime Minister to maintain peace and harmony as communal classes happened... As a citizen of India, I have my rights to ask this. As a lawmaker what's our duty? It is to urge people to maintain peace, so that's what I did [sic]," he added.
Mevani also said that both the cases against him were "false and frivolous".
"This is a conspiracy. This did not go well among Dalits, among people of Gujarat. They are watching it. They (BJP) will pay for it."
"The timing of the case also speaks everything. There are elections coming in Gujrat, so I am being targeted. The people have understood this ploy. The moment I was picked up in Gujrat, I knew they were planning to trap me in different cases. The targeting of an MLA from Gujarat in Assam was part of a big plot," he added. "They file cases against anyone who questions them, anyone who speaks for truth... The way the people of Assam and the Congress supported me was of great help."
More Details on the Assault Case Against Mevani
The assault case against Mevani was filed on 21 April, under Sections 294 (obscene acts and songs), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), and 354 (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the IPC.
The complainant, a police officer, said that she, along with three other officers, was escorting Mevani from Guwahati airport to Kokrajhar in a government vehicle on the afternoon of 21 April, when Mevani started using "slang words" against her. On being asked to behave properly, the complainant alleged that Mevani got agitated and "used more slang words."
She also alleged that he pointed a finger towards her and pushed her on to her seat with force, purportedly assaulting her during "the execution of my legal duty… and outraged my modesty by touching me inappropriately while pushing."
Mevani had earlier been arrested in a case over one of his tweets, wherein he had stated, "PM Modi worships Godse" and "...that the PM on his Gujarat visit must make an appeal for harmony in light of the recent events of communal violence in the state."
The tweet had "caused widespread criticism and has the propensity to disturb tranquility, prejudicial to maintenance of harmony among a certain section of people. It is more likely to incite a section of masses belonging to a certain community to commit an offence against other community," as per the complaint filed against him.
(With inputs from NDTV and ANI.)