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If agitators damage property, leaders must go to cops: SC ‘Must Appear For Questioning In 24 Hrs, Or Be Treated As Suspect’

October 03, 2018 06:14 AM

COURTESY TOI OCT 3

If agitators damage property, leaders must go to cops: SC
‘Must Appear For Questioning In 24 Hrs, Or Be Treated As Suspect’
Dhananjay.Mahapatra@timesgroup.com

New Delhi:

If protesters turn violent and vandalise property, their leaders must present themselves for questioning at a police station within 24 hours, failing which they will be proceeded against as suspects first and absconders later, the Supreme Court has said.


“In instances where a group or organisation has staged a protest or demonstration resulting in violence and damage to property, leaders and office-bearers should physically present themselves for questioning on their own within 24 hours in the police station within whose jurisdiction the violence and damage occurred,” a bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said on Monday.

Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Khanwilkar said, “Any such person(s) failing to present himself or herself in such manner without any sufficient reason should be proceeded against as a suspect and legal process initiated forthwith, including for being declared absconder in accordance with law.”

This will have serious implications, particularly for leaders of fringe groups, as protests over issues like religion, cow protection, films or even political ideologies often turn violent. Turning the screws on such protests, the SC said leaders will be granted bail only if they deposit the estimated cost due to loss or damage, either individually or collectively.

“A person arrested for either committing or initiating, promoting, instigating or in any way causing to occur any act of violence which results in loss of life or damage to property may be granted conditional bail upon depositing the quantified loss caused due to such violence or furnishing security for such quantified loss. In case of more than one person involved in such act of violence, each one of them shall be jointly, severally and vicariously liable to pay the quantified loss,” the SC said.

The three-judge bench fell back on its judgment providing the mechanism to stop lynching incidents and said the nodal officer appointed for each district for curbing such violence would also act to initiate action in vandalism incidents.

“Since the nodal officer

(s) holds the overall responsibility in each district to prevent mob violence against cultural establishments and against property, any unexplained and/or unsubstantiated delay in filing FIRs and/or conducting investigations in that regard should also be deemed to be inaction on the part of the said nodal officer(s),” it said.

“The said nodal officer(s) would also be responsible for creating and maintaining a list containing the various cultural establishments, including theatres, cinema halls, music venues, performance halls and centres and art galleries within the district, and pin point vulnerable cultural establishments and property which have been attacked or damaged by mob violence over the past five years. This list would be updated on a regular basis to account for any new opening and closing of establishments,” it added

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