HC grants interim protection to AAP leader in SC/ST Act case, also stays probe

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted interim protection from any coercive action to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) National Executive member and its Mumbai unit president Preeti Sharma Menon and another party worker in connection with a case filed against them under the stringent SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

A division bench of Justices S B Shukre and Miling Sathaye also stayed investigation into the case for four weeks.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Menon and her party colleague Manu Pillai seeking to quash the FIR (first information report) registered against them.

The FIR was lodged on March 16, 2023, at the the Andheri police station in suburban Mumbai on a complaint of AAP member Sanjay Kamble.

According to the complainant, who joined the AAP last year, on February 24 when the party’s national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was in Mumbai along with his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann, he (Kamble) raised an issue of mismanagement at a meeting.

At that time Pillai allegedly made casteist comments, he said.

Following this, Kamble asked Menon to take action against her party colleague, as per the complaint.

Later, on March 10, another meeting was held at AAP’s Andheri office to discuss some organisational issues.

However, when Kamble spoke at the meeting, Menon is alleged to have said that his “mentality was low”, while Pillai assaulted him (the complainant).

Kamble was allegedly not allowed to leave the party office, where a lot of sloganeering took place.

Based on the complaint, Menon and Pillai were booked under sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 500 (defamation), 504 (intentional insult) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with relevant provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Menon, in her plea in the HC, has denied all the charges and claimed the FIR was lodged under the influence of rival political parties.

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