Pune: Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe and Milind Narvekar, a personal assistant of Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray, were on Thursday discharged from a riot case after the court accepted State government’s application to withdraw the 2010 criminal case against them.
The case was registered in December 2010, against the two for allegedly instigating violence during a bandh called by Sena over the alleged controversy of shifting the statue of Dadoji Konddev, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s mentor, by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) from the historic Lal Mahal. Pune city police had recorded their telephonic conversation wherein they are allegedly talking about violence.
At that time Congress-NCP government was in power in the State. After the BJP-led government of which Sena is a partner, came to power in 2014, they decided to withdraw political cases filed during the previous regime.
In 2015 the government moved an application to withdraw the case against the duo, but it was rejected by the court of Judicial Magistrate (First Class) SR Nimse on the grounds that duo had instigated violence which could have caused harm to life and property. “Political and social agitations cases are withdrawn where prohibitory orders are violated. But in the present case section 153 and 120B are invoked for conspiracy to cause a riot,” the magistrate stated.
In July this year, the government decided to withdraw eight cases pending in Pune (Gorhe and Narvekar’s), Mumbai, Kolhapur and Nagpur. The Pune District Government Pleader Ujjwala Pawar was asked to initiate the process as per the government resolution (GR) to withdraw cases arising out of social and political agitations.
In August, Pawar submitted an application stating that total damage in the riot was less than Rs five lakh and that the telephonic conversation was on CD which is secondary evidence. “The GR states that cases with damages worth Rs five lakh or less can be withdrawn. As per Criminal Procedure Code section 321, it is not for the court (at this stage) to decide whether evidence will lead to conviction or acquittal,” Pawar submitted.
JMFC PT Gotey, while accepting the application, stated, “The government has taken a policy decision for social harmony in the society. The case is related to social and political agitations... it is a fit case in which consent can be granted to withdraw from prosecution.”