HC quashes FIR against Raj Thackeray for model code violation ahead of 2010 civic polls

 The Bombay High Court on Friday quashed an FIR and subsequent criminal proceedings initiated against Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray for allegedly violating the model code of conduct ahead of the civic polls in 2010.

A division bench of Justices Ajey Gadkari and Sharmila Deshmukh allowed the 2014 petition filed by the MNS head against the FIR (First Information Report).

As per the FIR, Thackeray visited Kalyan and Dombivali area, on the outskirts of Mumbai, for campaigning which was to be completed by September 29, 2010, as per a circular of the State Election Commission (SEC).

Citing the circular, a deputy commissioner of police issued a notice to Thackeray asking him not to stay within the limits of the Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC) beyond 10 pm on September 29 that year.

As per the notice, Thackeray was asked not to visit any political party office, residence, hotel, lodges or guest houses and in case of violation, he might face prosecution under section 126 of the Representation of Peoples Act.

The prosecution alleged that Thackeray stayed in a house within KDMC area beyond the notified time and after a senior police inspector visited the MNS chief to serve him a notice, he refused to accept the same. The notice was then pasted at the location concerned.

An FIR was registered against Thackeray under section 188 (disobedience to order by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for violation of the notice.

The chargesheet in the case was filed before the judicial magistrate, Kalyan, after completion of the probe. The magistrate took its cognisance and issued summons to Thackeray on January 10, 2011, as per court papers.

Thereafter, Thackeray appeared before the court and sought bail, which was granted on the same day.

In 2014, Thackeray approached the HC to get the FIR quashed.

The high court on April 27, 2015, granted stay on the proceedings pending his plea.

Thackeray’s lawyer Sayaji Nangre had argued that section 188 of IPC was a cognisable offence and therefore proceedings could not be initiated through FIR, but through a complaint before the magistrate.

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