Assault on Police: Bombay HC Declines to Quash Case Against Chandrababu Naidu & Ananda Babu

Chandrababu Naidu & Ananda Babu

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has declined to quash a case against former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and TDP leader Nakka Ananda Babu for purportedly assaulting police personnel in Maharashtra in 2010.

A bench of Justices Mangesh Patil and Shailesh Brahme stated that there is “ample material” to suggest the involvement of both Naidu and Babu in the alleged offense.

Petitions Rejected

The court rejected the petitions filed by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Naidu and Babu seeking to annul the FIR lodged against them with the Dharmabad police in Maharashtra’s Nanded district.

The FIR was registered on charges of assaulting or using criminal force against a public servant, causing harm with dangerous weapons, rash acts endangering lives of others, intentional insult with an intent to provoke breach of peace, and criminal intimidation.

The bench in its order stated that there is “ample material” revealing the involvement of both Naidu and Babu in the commission of the crime.

“The FIR explicitly alleges about the applicant accused no. 1 (Naidu) having instigated fellow prisoners and even threatened of there being a war between the two states,” the bench stated.

The bench observed that witnesses in their statements have directly attributed roles to Naidu and Babu in the commission of the offense, and medical certificates indicate that many police officials sustained injuries. It is evident that the offense was committed with a common intention to assault police personnel, the high court remarked. The FIR was promptly lodged, and even the injured police personnel were immediately medically examined, it noted.

“There is ample material revealing the involvement of the applicants (Naidu and Babu) in the commission of the crime with which they have been charged, and it would not be appropriate to annul the crime and the criminal case,” the high court stated.

The bench dismissed both the petitions but extended the interim protection granted earlier until July 8 at the request of the duo’s counsel Sidharth Luthra.

The 2010 Incident

In July 2010, Naidu and Babu were arrested along with 66 associates by the Dharmabad police in connection with another case related to protest and agitation. Naidu, Babu, and the others were remanded to judicial custody in the case and kept in a temporary prison at the Government Rest House in Dharmabad. When their judicial custody was extended, the Maharashtra Prisons’ DIG ordered for them to be shifted to the Aurangabad central prison. However, Naidu and Babu refused to be shifted and allegedly started hurling abuses in Telugu and English against the jail authorities.

When the jailer requested the duo to board an air-conditioned bus, Naidu and Babu allegedly declared that if they were forced to board the bus, there would be a conflict between the two states.

The allegation against the duo is that they instigated the other accused persons and started using criminal force and even assaulted some police officials. Additional force was called, and the accused, including Naidu and Babu, were shifted to the Aurangabad central prison.

Case- False & Concocted?

Senior advocate Luthra, appearing for Naidu and Babu, argued that the FIR pertaining to the agitation was withdrawn and the magistrate had discharged all the accused in that case immediately. However, the police machinery was now implicating the duo in the assault case. Luthra argued that the allegations in this case were false and concocted.

Under provisions of the Prisons Act, only the superintendent of prisons has the power to lodge FIRs, he said. The informant in the present case was a senior jailer who could not have acted independently and did not have the power to lodge an FIR, Luthra said.

The court, however, refused to accept the contention and said the accused have been booked under provisions of the Indian Penal Code, which are independent offenses, and not the Prisons Act.

“The impugned crime and the chargesheet merely seek to attract provisions of the Indian Penal Code,” the bench said.

Hence, Luthra’s submission would not be legally tenable, it added. The bench said the Prisons Act does not lay down any mechanism or procedure for lodging FIRs under the Indian Penal Code in respect of crimes committed within the premises of a prison.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte