A special Mumbai Court asked the reason why 11 of 20 accused in the case were absent, including Maharashtra speaker Rahul Narvekar and cabinet minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha.
Advocate Manoj Gupta, appearing for all the accused in the case, filed a common exemption application for all the 11 accused.
By Vidya : Coming down on Maharashtra speaker Rahul Narvekar and cabinet minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha and other BJP leaders who have consequently been absent from court proceedings and not coming to court due to some or the other reason for framing of charges against them, a special court in Mumbai asked, “Do you how many days these people have been absent?”
On Friday, 11 of 20 accused in the case were absent, including Narvekar and Lodha. Advocate Manoj Gupta appearing for all the accused in the case said, “Because of Gujarat election they are not able to come. I have told them and conveyed that charges have to be framed in the case.”
Special judge RN Rokde said, “Whatever is being recorded in the roznama about their absence, I will send, you see.” Gupta again reiterated that he has informed all the accused to be present and assured that they would be present during the next hearing.
Gupta filed a common exemption application for all the 11 accused which stated that Narvekar and Lodha and all the other absent accused had gone to Gujarat for the ongoing election campaign there.
However judge Rokde said, “Is this a proper reason that they have gone to Gujarat election? This is not official work. Please mention properly what is the official work that they have gone on.”
Gupta replied, “I know Sir, but I dont know what is the official work that they have gone on as one is speaker the other is minister. But I have written that they will come on the next date.”
The hearing in the case was then adjourned to Dec 21 for framing of charge.
Narvekar, Lodha among others are charged for unlawful assembly and restraining the General Manager of BEST while protesting against hiked power bills during 2020 lockdown. The charges included sections 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 341 (wrongful restraint), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant), 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting) and other sections pertaining to unlawful assembly of the IPC, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Epidemic Prevention Act.
Police had even filed chargesheet against the accused and the draft charges against the accused were submitted before the special court in August. Lodha and Narvekar have appeared before the court few times and on July 9, 2021 all 20 accused were present together before the court. Even this year Narvekar and Lodha had been present at quite a few occassions.
However earlier the accused had filed applications for discharge which were later withdrawn. Since the withdrawl of the discharge applications, the court has to go ahead with framing of charges. However since then only, many of the accused have not been appearing before court including Narvekar and Lodha.
Because of all the accused not coming before the court the judge is unable to proceed with the trial against the accused.
Nov 26, 2022