Assault at Awhad’s house: HC dismisses plea seeking transfer of probe to CBI


The Bombay High Court Tuesday dismissed plea by a Thane-based civil engineer seeking transfer of the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in an incident where he was allegedly beaten up by 10-15 men associated with state Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad for posting a morphed photograph of the NCP leader on social media in 2020.

A division bench of Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Shriram M Modak dismissed the plea filed in 2020, argued by advocate Subhash Jha, which also sought Awhad’s name to be included as accused in the FIR lodged by Thane police in the matter.

In his police complaint, engineer Anant Karmuse had stated that he uploaded a morphed photograph of the minister on Facebook, mocking him in connection with PM Narendra Modi’s appeal to light candles at 9 pm on April 5 to mark the battle against Covid-19.

Karmuse told the police that at 11.50 pm on April 5, 2020, four persons, including two in police uniform, came to his residence at Anand Nagar area of Ghodbunder Road in Thane. The “policemen”, he claimed, told him to accompany them to the police station, but took him to Awhad’s bungalow instead where he was allegedly assaulted.

An FIR was registered against “unidentified persons” under several IPC sections for abduction, causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means, rioting and intimidation at Thane police station on April 8. Five persons were subsequently arrested by Vartak Nagar Police station in the matter.

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Awhad had in 2020 told The Indian Express that he did not know about anyone being beaten. “But this person has been putting up obscene memes and photos of leaders of my party and family members for the past two years. This is a classic case of abusing freedom of speech,” he said.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni submitted that since charges are framed in the case and chargesheet being filed, the petitioner can raise grievances before the Thane magistrate trying the case and therefore the scope of petition is irrelevant, therefore the “politically motivated” plea be dismissed. The Court accepted state’s submissions and rejected the plea.

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