NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra police to carry out further investigation against Jitendra Awhad, NCP leader and then sitting Cabinet Minister for "mercilessly" beating up a civil engineer at his premises in Thane on April 5, 2020 for criticising him in a Facebook post for his act of ridiculing the Prime Minister of India.
Acting on a plea by victim, Anant Thanur Karmuse, a bench of Justices M R Shah and C T Ravikumar said the Bombay High Court in its order of April 26, 2022 committed "a very serious error" in not ordering the State police agency to further investigate into the case.
The court, however, rejected his plea for transferring the case to the CBI.
"We direct/permit the State agency to further investigate into the FIR and on what aspects the further investigation shall be carried out is left to its wisdom. It is to be carried out and completed as early as possible, preferably within three months," the bench said.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing on behalf of the appellant has vehemently submitted that the entire investigation was conducted in a sham and casual manner because one of the accused was the influential Minister of the State.
The court also noted that the former Minister was named as accused only in the second supplementary charge sheet in the month of March, 2022 and not prior to that when the first charge sheet, the supplementary chargesheet were filed and even when the charges against the other accused were framed.
Senior advocates Shekhar Naphade and A M Singhvi, appearing for the accused, contended no case of CBI probe was made out as charge sheets have been filed and charges have been framed. They opposed the plea for further investigation.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Maharashtra government agreed that there were some lapses in the earlier investigation.
"Mere filing of the charge sheet and framing of the charges cannot be an impediment in ordering further investigation / re-investigation / de novo investigation, if the facts so warrant," the bench said.
The court also pointed out there was no proper investigation into the case and the state agency, which opposed the petition before the High Court, admitted after the change of the government in the state, that further investigation is still required on certain aspects.
The petitioner contended though the name of Awhad, then Minister and his other men were disclosed in the FIR and a clear case of kidnapping and causing grievous hurt was alleged, no FIR was lodged against him and his other men.
It was only after various orders were passed by the High Court in the pending writ petition that Awhad was made an accused after a period of two years of the incident.
The appellant claimed at around 11.50 pm at night on April 05, 2020, four Policemen, two dressed in Civilian dress and other two in uniform came to his residence and forcibly took him to the Bungalow of the said Minister at Thane.
The then Minister then allegedly instructed his men to beat him and make him apologies for circulating the said viral picture and threatened him to delete the post immediately. Thereafter, an ally of the Minister allegedly called the appellant on his number as he left his phone in his house and told his wife to delete the controversial post. The appellant was mercilessly and ruthlessly beaten up by the police personnel present at the premises of the Minister, the plea claimed.