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Thursday,28-October-2021

Crime

SC extends Arnab Goswami’s interim bail, says deprivation of liberty even for a single day is one day too many

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The Supreme Court on Friday said liberty across human eras is as tenuous as tenuous can be, as it extended the interim bail of Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami and two others till four weeks after the Bombay High Court decides their pleas for quashing of an FIR in the 2018 abetment to suicide case. The top court noted, “deprivation of liberty even for a single day is one day too many. We must always be mindful of the deeper systemic implications of our decisions.”

A bench comprising Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee said: “Liberty survives by the vigilance of her citizens, on the cacophony of the media and in the dusty corridors of courts alive to the rule of (and not by) law. Yet, much too often, liberty is a casualty when one of these components is found wanting.”

The bench noted that the specific case of Goswami is that he has been targeted because his opinions on his television channel are unpalatable to authority. The top court cited that there was a failure of the High Court to discharge its adjudicatory function at two levels – first in declining to evaluate prima facie at the interim stage in a petition for quashing the FIR as to whether an arguable case has been made out. Secondly, in declining interim bail, as a consequence of its failure to render a prima facie opinion on the first.

The top court asked courts across the country to zealously safeguard the liberty of citizens against selective harassment by the state governments, as consequence for those who suffer incarceration are serious. “Common citizens without the means or resources to move the High Courts or this Court languish as undertrials. Courts must be alive to the situation as it prevails on the ground – in the jails and police stations where human dignity has no protector”, the top court observed, as it gave out detailed reasoning of its November 11 order granting interim bail to Goswami and others.

The bench noted that the Bombay High Court, declining relief to him, abdicated its constitutional duty and function as a protector of liberty. “Courts must be alive to the need to safeguard the public interest in ensuring that the due enforcement of criminal law is not obstructed. The fair investigation of crime is an aid to it”, added the bench.

The bench noted that the doors of the apex court cannot be closed to a citizen who is able to establish prima facie that the instrumentality of the state is being weaponised for using the force of criminal law. “Our courts must ensure that they continue to remain the first line of defence against the deprivation of the liberty of citizens”, added the bench.

The top court also cited pendency of cases data from National Judicial Data Grid. In High Courts, 91,568 bail applications are pending and 1.96 Lakh bail applications are pending in district courts.

Crime

UP: Woman assaulted in hotel, 2 held

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 Two persons have been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel here.

The accused have been identified as Riyasat and Umaid while the third accused, Sarfaraz, a religious preacher is absconding.

According to reports, the woman was allegedly assaulted on Wednesday by Riyasat and Umaid in a hotel room on the pretext of performing a practice required to legalise re-marriage with her first husband, who had divorced her six months ago. He wanted to marry her again.

The woman informed her brother about the incident who then informed the police.

Vineet Bhatnagar, SP (Meerut) said, “The woman was allegedly raped by two men. An FIR has been registered and two people have been arrested. Further action will be taken on basis of evidence. The woman’s statement will be recorded.”

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Crime

Wankhede family was Muslim: Sameer’s ex-in-laws bombshell

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 The Wankhede family was Muslim, performed ‘namaz’ and ‘Ramadan fasts’ and were known to the family of Sameer’s former wife Dr. Shabana Quraishi almost four years before marriage, revealed the latter’s father Dr. Zahid Quraishi, here on Thursday.

Speaking to hordes of mediapersons, Dr. Quraishi — the ex-father-in-law of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede — said that the two families had “excellent relations” prior to his (Sameer’s) wedding with his daughter.

“The marriage took place before they were Muslims… Otherwise it would not have materialised… They were good Muslims, performing ‘namaz’ and ‘Ramadan rozas’ also,” Dr. Quraishi asserted, dropping a bombshell.

Dr. Shabana Quraishi was acquainted with Sameer Wankhede over three years before their engagement and got married some 10 months post-betrothal, and later they had a child out of the wedlock.

The new disclosures come a day after the Wankhede family members vehemently denied that they were Muslims and asserted that they were Hindus.

In a climbdown of sorts following the furore, Sameer Wankhede’s father Dynaneshwar Wankhede said that his late wife addressed him by a pet name of ‘Dawood’, while his wife Kranti Redkar-Wankhede said he (Sameer) married in a Muslim ceremony as per the desires of his deceased mother.

Nationalist Congress Party Minister Nawab Malik reiterated that the issue he had raised was not about Wankhede’s religion, but his forged caste-papers on the basis of which he secured a Central government job in the IRS.

“I challenge them to prove me wrong… I shall quit my Ministerial post immediately… I dare them to drag me to any court of law and I shall ensure that all my charges are true with evidence,” said Malik grimly, after his series of exposures on Sameer Wankhede’s role in the NCB kicked up a huge political dust-storm.

The Muslim priest Maulana Muzammil Ahmed, who performed the ‘nikaah’ (marriage) of Sameer Wankhede-Dr. Shabana Quraishi in Andheri west, on Wednesday confirmed that the bridegroom was a Muslim and his father’s name was Dawood.

“The bride was a Muslim, the bridegroom was also Muslim, their parents were Muslims… Otherwise I would not have performed it (nikaah),” Maulana Ahmed told mediapersons.

The row over Sameer Wankhede’s religious credentials erupted after Malik on Wednesday posted his ‘nikaah-nama’ with his signature and the December 7, 2006 wedding pix of the couple in Muslim attire, and how he had allegedly forged his caste certificate later to get a reserved category government job.

However, the Wankhede family has rubbised all the allegations and some Bharatiya Janata Party activists have demanded his sacking from the state cabinet for misusing his official position.

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Crime

Maha Police nab 2 most wanted Maoists disguised as civilians

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 Marking another achievement, the Gadchiroli police have nabbed two most wanted Maoists — carrying a reward of Rs 2,00,000 each — disguised as civilians, during a covert operation, an official said here on Thursday.

They are Muda Masa Zohi, 32 and Mainu Dorpeti, who were participating as civilians during a rally of local villagers opposing the Surjagad Mining Project, said Superintendent of Police Ankit Goyal.

While Zohi is an Action Team Member, Dorpeti is a Jan Militia activist and both have serious cases lodged against them.

Following reliable intel that a group of Maoists masquerading as villagers may infiltrate the rally on October 26, the Gadchiroli police deployed its own force members in plainclothes to detect them.

After successfully identifying them from the crowds, the covert police teams guided by the top officers like Somay Munde, Sameer Shaikh, Anuj Tare, managed to trap and arrest them, said Goyal.

As per his records, Zohi was directly involved in the bloody encounters at Zarewada (February 27, 2019), Bodmeta (March 15, 2020), Koparshi (March 4, 2021) and other serious offences.

Dorpeti was personally linked with the brutal killing of one villager Somaji C. Sadmek on the Hedri-Surjagad Road on September 19 (2021), attacks on a security post in Gatta on May 11 and other major crimes.

Considering their series of violent acts and other offences, the Maharashtra Police had announced a reward of Rs two Lakh each on their heads, Goyal added.

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