Bombay High Court relief to suspended DIG Nishikant More accused of molestation.

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted interim protection from arrest to suspended Maharashtra deputy inspector general of police Nishikant More, who is accused of molesting a 17-year-old girl.

Justice P D Naik directed More to appear before Taloja police in Navi Mumbai on January 29, 30 and 31 to cooperate with the probe in the case.

The court in its order noted that the accused and the family of the girl shared cordial relations, which later turned sour after the victim’s father refused to return money that he allegedly borrowed from the accused.

The court also said that when the alleged molestation incident took place on June 5, 2019 during the victim’s birthday celebration, her family was present.

“The manner and conduct of the victim in the video creates doubt on the alleged incident,” Justice Naik said.

The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on February 17.

More approached HC last week after the Panvel sessions court rejected his anticipatory bail application.

In his plea, the accused claimed all the allegations were “baseless”, and the complaint against him was made because of the financial dispute between the two families.

According to Navi Mumbai Police, the girl was allegedly molested at her home in Taloja town of neighbouring Raigad district during her birthday celebration on June 5, 2019.

The victim’s father claimed that while they had lodged a complaint on July 12, 2019, the police refused to take cognisance of it and an FIR was belatedly lodged on December 26, 2019.

Man seeks Rs 1.5 cr from mother for abandoning him 38 yrs ago

A 40-year-old man has moved the Bombay High Court against his biological mother and sought a compensation of Rs 1.5 crore from her for abandoning him in Mumbai when he was two years’ old and later refusing to accept him as her son.

The petitioner, Srikant Sabnis, a make-up artist, has said he underwent a life full of agony and mental trauma after being intentionally abandoned in an unknown city, for which his mother Aarti Mhaskar and her second husband Uday Mhaskar (Sabnis’s step-father) need to compensate.

As per the plea, Aarti Mhaskar was earlier married to one Deepak Sabnis. The couple had a child, Srikant Sabnis, in February 1979 while residing in Pune.

As per the plea, the woman was ambitious and wanted to move to Mumbai to work in the film industry. In September 1981, she took the child along with her and left for Mumbai.

Once they reached Mumbai, the woman abandoned her son in a train and left, the plea alleged, adding that the child was found by a railway officer and sent to a children’s home.

In 1986, Srikant Sabnis’ maternal grandmother succeeded in getting his legal custody.

He initially lived with his grandmother, but was later brought up by his maternal aunt.

The plea stated that in 2017, Srikant Sabnis learnt about his biological mother.

After procuring her number, he contacted her in September 2018 when she accepted he was her son and that she had to abandon him due to unavoidable circumstances, the petition said.

He later met his mother and her second husband, but they asked him not to disclose his real identity in front of their children, it said.

“The plaintiff, who has already undergone a dreadful life seeking shelter at relatives’ place and wandering from fake parents to observation home, was totally devastated by this unacceptable condition,” the plea said.

In his plea filed before the high court recently, Srikant Sabnis sought a direction to his mother to declare he is her son and that she had abandoned him when he was two years old.

“The defendants (Aarti and Uday Mhaskar) have disturbed the mental peace of the plaintiff, for which they are bound to compensate the plaintiff,” the plea said.

“The plaintiff has undergone a life full of agony, mental trauma, inconvenience, mystery about his own parents and his existence. The plaintiff was forced to live like a beggar till his grandmother got his custody,” it added.

The petition will come up for hearing on January 13 before Justice A K Menon.

Rape of minors : Convict should be mercilessly punished

Persons accused of sexual offences against minor victims should be “mercilessly and inexorably punished”, the Bombay High Court said while upholding the conviction of a 29-year-old man for raping a five-year-old girl.

A single bench of Justice Prithviraj Chavan on Friday dismissed an appeal filed by Sagar Dhuri, challenging a special court order of June 2018 convicting him for sexually assaulting the victim and sentencing him to ten years in jail.

“The dicta is loud and clear as to how such offences are required to be dealt with. Such persons are a menace to the civilized society and, therefore, they should be mercilessly and inexorably punished,” the court said.

“This is a case in which there is no question of reformation of the appellant as he was quite a grown up male who knew the consequences of his act,” Justice Chavan noted.

According to the prosecution, Dhuri, who used to live in the same neighbourhood as the victim in Thane district, called the girl to his house in April 2015 under the pretext of showing her songs on his mobile phone and sexually assaulted her.

The victim’s friend, who was looking for her to play with, found her in the convict’s house and informed a woman residing in the neighbourhood.

The woman peeped through a hole on the convict’s door and found the girl lying down and the convict on top of her following which she called the victim out and took her to her mother and narrated the incident.

A police complaint was then lodged and the accused was taken into custody.

The high court, while upholding Dhuri’s conviction and sentence, relied on the statements of witnesses and also the evidence given by the victim.

Maharashtra: Voter seeks Bombay High Court direction to BJP and Shiv Sena to form government as they got ‘Public mandate’.

A woman voter from Maharashtra on Monday moved the Bombay High Court seeking a direction to the BJP and Shiv Sena to stand by their pre-poll alliance and form government in the state as they got the “public mandate”.

Priya Chauhan (46), a resident of neighboring Thane district, in her petition also sought a direction to the Centre and the state to refrain from appointing anyone as chief minister from the post-election alliances of the Sena- Congress-NCP, and BJP-Ajit Pawar.

The plea, filed through advocate Nitin Satpute, claims the petitioner is aggrieved by the BJP and Shiv Sena’s “betrayal”.

The plea has also sought an FIR to be lodged against the BJP and Shiv Sena for failing to form government, saying it amounts to breach of the trust of voters and cheating.

“Both the BJP and Shiv Sena have betrayed the trust of voters. They have not complied with their promises and post elections changed their alliances,” the plea said.

The petition, which will come up for hearing in due course, claimed the BJP, facing the prospect of a non-BJP alliance staking claim to power in Maharashtra, resorted to political machinations.

The petition also raised questions over the manner in which the governor sought revocation of the President’s rule in Maharashtra and allowed swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister.

“The governor has acted in a partisan manner and made a mockery of the high office of the governor,” it said.

“The governor’s actions on the intervening night of November 22 and November 23, culminating into the swearing-in (of Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister) are a text book example of the governor acting at the behest of a political party in power at the Centre,” the plea alleged.

The governor has allowed himself to be a “pawn in BJP’s illegal usurpation of power”, it added.

In another significant development, the Supreme Court on Monday heard the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine’s plea against the governor’s decision to swear in Fadnavis as chief minister and said it will give its order on Maharashtra government formation on Tuesday.

Fadnavis and NCP’s Ajit Pawar were sworn in as chief minister and deputy chief minister respectively by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at 8 am on Saturday at a hush hush ceremony in Raj Bhavan here, leading to the lifting of the President’s rule in the state.

The BJP was propped up by Ajit Pawar who revolted against the NCP headed by his uncle Sharad Pawar.

The BJP and the Sena, which fought the last month’s Assembly polls in an alliance, secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats respectively.

The Sena, however, broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister’s post.

The NCP and Congress won 54 and 44 seats respectively.

Elgar Parishad case: Navlakha moves Pune court for anticipatory bail

 Activist Gautam Navlakha, accused of Maoist links in connection with the Elgar Parishad caste violence case, on Tuesday approached the Pune sessions court for anticipatory bail.

The court will hear his plea on November 7.

The Bombay High Court had on Monday asked Navlakha to approach the sessions court here for anticipatory bail.

Navlakha’s plea for anticipatory bail came up for hearing on Monday before a single bench of Justice P D Naik, who dismissed it and asked the Delhi-based activist to first approach the sessions court in Pune for relief.

Navlakha had filed the application in the high court which had, in September, declined to quash a police case lodged against him in January last year, after which he had moved the Supreme Court.

The apex court had granted him interim protection from arrest and said he could seek anticipatory bail from the court concerned.

According to the police, “inflammatory” speeches and “provocative” statements at the Elgar Parishad conclave held on December 31, 2017, had triggered violence at Koregaon Bhima on 1st January, 2018.

The police have alleged that the event, held at a fort, was backed by people with Maoist links.

Navlakha and the other accused were booked under the relevant provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Besides Navlakha, eight others, including Telugu poet Varavara Rao and Left-wing activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj, are accused in the case.

Bombay High Court dismisses petitions on Aarey Colony, says ‘greens have failed’

“The greens (environmentalists) have failed,” the Bombay High Court said on Friday, while refusing to declare Aarey Colony a forest and declining to quash the BMC tree authority’s decision allowing felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro carshed.

The court imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on Shiv Sena corporator Yashwant Jadhav, who opposed the approval given by the BMC tree authority, of which he is a member, for hacking trees in the green belt.

A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre dismissed four petitions filed by NGOs and environmental activists on issues related to Aarey Colony in Goregaon, a major green lung of the metropolis.

The court termed all the petitioners as “Davids” taking on the industrial “Goliaths”, apparently suggesting that they were fighting an unequal battle.

One of the pleas moved by city-based NGO Vanshakti had sought that Aarey Colony be declared a forest and an ecologically sensitive zone, while another petition filed by green activist Zoru Bathena had pleaded that the area be given the status of a floodplain.

Two separate petitions were filed by Bathena and Jadhav, challenging the decision of the BMC tree authority permitting the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) to cut 2,656 trees to construct a metro carshed in Aarey Colony.

Dismissing the petition filed by Vanshakti, the court, in its judgment, noted that the issue was already decided by an earlier bench of the high court and the matter was presently pending before the Supreme Court.

“The greens (environmentalists) fail in the instant petition because they have lost touch with the procedure to be followed as per law. The clock cannot be put back. We do not make any comments thereon as the petitioner has to now swim or sink before the Supreme Court,” the court said.

Dismissing the petitions filed by Bathena and Jadhav, the bench said the greens had failed on merit.

“The tree authority’s decision-making process was fair, transparent and based on reason. The greens fail not on account of sailing their boats in the wrong channel but on merits,” the court said.

The bench imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on Jadhav.

“It (Jadhav’s plea) is sans any material and bereft of concise statements and details concerning the meeting of the tree authority held on August 29, 2019,” the court said.

It noted that there was no variation in the opinion of the members of the tree authority on whether the trees could be transplanted or had to be cut.

“There are good reasons for taking the view that the trees would not survive if transplanted and that it would be futile to spend good money to transplant the trees, which ultimately would by and large die,” the bench said.

The court also took note of the submission made by MMRCL counsel Ashutosh Kumbhakoni that the authority had already planted 20,900 trees in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

“This establishes that about seven times the number of trees to be felled have been replaced by planting of saplings,” the court said.

It termed all the petitioners as “Davids” taking on the industrial “Goliaths”.

“Relationship with nature and love for environment alone is true and all other relationships are unreal and temporary, is their (environmentalists’) belief. Their hearts are a temple of devotion to flora and fauna,” the court said.

“In the instant case, the Davids (environmentalists) row their boat with faith, courage and devotion in the storm of development but directionless,” the bench said in its judgment, dismissing the plea filed by Vanshakti.

It also refused to accept the contentions raised by Bathena and Jadhav in their pleas that the tree authority had granted approval in haste and without considering opposing views.

“We highlight that the deliberation by the tree authority members was not only at the meeting held on August 29, 2019. They had discussed the issue at site visits held on August 10 and 20, 2019. What was discussed at the site has been neatly presented as a bonsai in the report prepared by the tree officers,” the court said.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had given the tree-hacking approval on August 29, triggering protests by green activists and common citizens, who had launched a “Save Aarey” campaign.

Vanshakti, in its plea, had said Aarey Colony, measuring 1,287 hectares, had several exotic flora and fauna.

On the Vanshakti petition, the court said, “The remedy is before the Supreme Court or the National Green Tribunal. We have applied the principle of commonality and not decided on merit.”

The Maharashtra government had claimed that Aarey Colony could not be termed a forest and that the issue was already decided by another high court bench.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, appearing for the state earlier, had said an appeal against the high court order refusing to declare Aarey a forest was currently pending before the Supreme Court.

Bathena, in his plea, had challenged the decision taken by the tree authority granting permission to fell trees.

The proposed carshed, part of the metro-3 project, will occupy 33 hectares in the southern part of Aarey Colony.

The authority has approved felling of 2,185 trees and transplanting (uprooting from the original spot and replanting them at an alternate spot) 461 trees from the area.

The authority’s approval is mandatory for felling more than 20 trees at a time at any place in the city.

Bombay High Court junks pleas seeking forest tag for Aarey colony.

In a setback to environmental activists, the Bombay High Court on Friday refused to declare Aarey colony a forest and also declined to quash the BMC tree authority’s decision allowing felling of over 2,600 trees in the suburban green zone to pave way for a metro carshed.

A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre dismissed four petitions filed by NGOs and environmental activists on issues related to Aarey colony in Goregaon, a major green lung of the metropolis.

One of the pleas filed by the city-based NGO Vanshakti sought that Aarey be declared a forest and ecologically sensitive zone, while another petition by green activist Zoru Bathena pleaded the area be given the status of a floodplain.

Two separate petitions were filed by Bathena and Shiv Sena corporator Yashwant Jadhav, challenging the decision of the BMC tree authority permitting the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) to cut 2,656 trees to construct a metro carshed in Aarey colony.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had given the tree hacking approval on August 29, 2019, triggering protests by green activists and common citizens who launched a “Save Aarey” campaign.

On the Vanshakti petition, the court said, “The remedy is before the Supreme Court or the National Green Tribunal. We have applied the principle of commonality and not decided on merit.”

The HC said it was also dismissing the petitions filed by Bathena and Jadhav against the approval for cutting trees.

The bench imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on Jadhav, a member of the BMC tree authority, a body whose approval is mandatory for cutting any tree in the city for infrastructure or other projects.

“We gave you (Jadhav) a choice to withdraw the petition but you chose to pursue it,” the court said.

Vanshakti, in its plea, claimed Aarey colony, measuring 1,287 hectares, had several exotic flora and fauna.

The Maharashtra government has claimed Aarey colony cannot be termed a forest and that the issue has been already decided by another HC bench.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, appearing for the state earlier, had said an appeal against the HC order refusing to declare Aarey a forest is currently pending before the Supreme Court.

Bathena, in his plea, challenged the decision taken by the tree authority granting permission to cut trees. The proposed carshed, part of the metro 3 project, will occupy 33 hectares in the southern part of Aarey colony.

The authority has approved felling of 2,185 trees and transplanting (uprooting from the original spot and replanting them at an alternate spot) 461 trees from the area.

The authority’s approval is mandatory for felling of more than 20 trees at a time at any place in the city.

Bathena’s counsel Janak Dwarkadas had argued earlier that the authority’s decision was taken in “haste and without proper application of mind”.

The MMRCL and the BMC, in their affidavits in response to Bathena’s plea, said the petition was stalling a public transport project which is in larger public interest and a vital public infrastructure.

The affidavits claimed that the metro project was environment-friendly and needs to be completed expeditiously.

“The metro project is expected to wean people away from using cars, taxis and two-wheelers and hence will result in sharp reduction in atmospheric pollution and environmental hazards caused by automobile exhaust gas,” the MMRCL and BMC affidavits said.

The MMRCL, in its affidavit, said Aarey is not a pristine area of land or has a dense tree cover or a naturally forested area as claimed by the petitioner.

It said the delay in construction of the carshed will cause a Rs 4.23-crore loss per day to the company and the state government.

Staying near refineries can pose health & security risks: Bombay High Court

 The Bombay High Court on Monday said making people stay in the heavily air polluted Mahul area of Mumbai may not only pose health risks, but also increase security concerns on refineries located in the vicinity.

A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre said the Maharashtra government cannot force any person to stay at such a residential colony in Mahul.

The bench was hearing applications of a group of people displaced following demolition of their unauthorised houses on the Tansa pipeline that runs across several parts of the city.

Relying on an April 2019 order passed by another bench of the high court, the bench led by Chief Justice Nandrajog on Monday said the government will have to either accommodate the displaced persons elsewhere, or give them Rs 15,000 each month as rent so that they can find their own accommodation.

Around 15,000 families were displaced after their “unauthorised” houses near the Tansa pipeline were ordered to be demolished by the high court last year.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had shifted the displaced people to a housing colony in Mahul, a polluted area where refineries and chemical units are located.

However, several families refused to move to Mahul, claiming that the air quality there was very poor and posed health risks.

“It is evident that residential premises in the vicinity of such refineries can pose multi-faceted risks, which are not only restricted to the health of residents nearby, but also security risk by way of a terrorist attack using these refineries as targets,” the bench said on Monday.

Such a terrorist attack would lead to colossal destruction within Mumbai city, it said.

The bench relied on an order passed by the National Green Tribunal in December 2015, stating that the presence of volatile organic compounds in Mahul makes the air pollution in the region harmful for human health.

“We have perused reports prepared by three government agencies – the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, the Central Pollution Control Board and NEERI – which show that the air pollution in Mahul continues to be disturbingly high and to this day, poses threat to human life,” the court said.

Around 200 of the 15,000 affected families have shifted to Mahul so far.

The court, in its order, said the government and the BMC shall not shift any more displaced persons to Mahul and shall also inform those persons who have been already shifted there that they can opt to leave the place.

After the bench passed its order, the BMC sought a stay so on it that it could approach the Supreme Court.

The bench, however, refused to grant the stay.

War and Peace: High court didn’t refer to Tolstoy’s book but that of Biswajit Roy

On Thursday, the Bombay High Court said that during the trial of Bhima Koregaon violence case accused Vernon Gonsalves on Wednesday, it did not refer to the literary classic ‘War & Peace’ by Leo Tolstoy but a book called ‘War & Peace in Junglemahal’ by Biswajit Roy, a Kolkata-based journalist.
The Court said that it was “shocked & hurt” to learn about the media reports stating that it has raised a question over Tolstoy’s book ‘War & Peace.’
It was widely reported on Wednesday that the single judge bench of Justice Sarang Kotwal of Bombay HC had observed that “how can the accused in Bhima Koregaon violence Gonsalves can have a book like ‘War & Peace’ at his home.”
During the proceedings in the Court on Thursday, lawyer Yug Chaudhary, who was appearing for Sudha Bhardwaj, another accused in Bhima Koregaon case, brought this online criticism to the court’s notice & informed the judge that his observations have been misquoted.
Chaudhary told the Court that according to him those observations were not for Tolstoy’s book but for another book of the almost similar name “WAR & PEACE IN JUNGLEMAHAL: PEOPLE, STATE & MAOISTS,” which was in the seizure ‘punchnama’ of the articles seized from Gonsalves’ residence during the raids of Pune Police.
Chaudhary said that he brought this matter to the Court in Thursday’s proceedings.
“I brought this matter to the Court’s notice today as it was completely misquoted & Justice Sarang was hurt. It was clear from the list of seized items recorded in the ‘punchnama’ that which book was referred to by the judge yesterday. This should have been reported responsibly,” he said.

High Court to Govt: Why did you transfer Accounts of Police Officials from State Bank of India to Pvt. Bank

State Bank of India On Thursday, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court asked the State Govt. to study the case papers in a petition challenging the alleged transfer of Police staff & beneficiaries accounts from nationalised banks to Axis Bank.
A Division bench of Justices PN Deshmukh & Pushpa Ganediwala gave two weeks time to the State Govt. to study the case papers to assist the court on the issuance of notices.
The petition contended that the Maharashtra Govt. had in the year 2017 transferred the accounts of Police staff & beneficiaries of various schemes from nationalised banks to Axis Bank, in which Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s wife Amruta D Fadnavis was a senior position.
Advocate Harshal S Burapatre had filed the petition in the court on behalf of social worker Mohanish Jabalpure.
The Court also allowed the petitioner to remove the name of Amruta D Fadnavis from the petition.
The petitioner had requested to remove her name from the petition since she is no longer holding the office in Axis Bank.
The petition sought the court’s direction to the State Bank of India to estimate the how many accounts of Police officials have been transferred from the bank to Axis Bank & how much loss it has incurred on the government bank.
It also challenged the action of the state government of issuing a circular for passing a Govt. circular & entering into a contract with Axis bank with interest to help Amruta D Fadnavis, wife of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Maharashtra Police, today, also released a clarification saying the accounts of Police officials have had accounts in Axis Bank & other private banks since the year 2003.