Eight months after two Air India employees K.V. Jagannath Rao and Mayank Sharma were arrested under section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act and imprisoned for 12 days; and over two months after the country expressed outrage over a similar arrest of two Palghar girls for a post on Facebook, the two Air India employees are yet to get justice. In the Palghar case, the police officers responsible for booking the girls were suspended pending inquiry and the police soon filed a closure report stating that no case was made out against the two girls. Mr. Rao and Mr. Sharma, on the other hand, have been running from pillar to post seeking action against the errant policemen and the complainant who allegedly “maliciously” registered a complaint against them.
“We have written more than 30 letters to various senior police officers pointing out the illegality of the police action against us. Niket Kaushik (Additional Commissioner of Police) promised us two months ago that departmental action will be taken against the policemen responsible for illegalities. But no action has been taken till now. If the police have not erred, why have they not filed a charge sheet against us even eight months after the FIR (First Information Report) was registered?” asked Mr. Sharma.
Mr. Sharma and Mr. Rao were picked up from their residences at midnight by police officials around eight months ago. They were booked for uploading lascivious and defamatory content on Facebook and Orkut against a local politician and for threatening him with death. They were also booked for insulting the national flag. Section 506(2) of the Indian Penal Code, Sections 66A and 67 of the IT Act and Section Two of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 were slapped on them. “The flag in question was not the national flag, but the flag of the Congress party. How could the police err in making out the national flag?” he asked. They alleged that they were booked at the behest of a local politician of the Nationalist Congress Party who wanted to settle personal scores with them. “The original complaint was given by Kiran Pawaskar. Sagar Karnik followed it up on his behalf. It is mentioned in the FIR, as well. Then why has a counter-FIR been registered only against Sagar Karnik? Why has Kiran Pawaskar not been booked?” Mr. Sharma asked. “Despite blatant irregularities in our case and harassment by the police officials of the Bandra Kurla Complex cyber crime police station, no action has been taken by the senior police. The police official investigating our case forged our remand application and added a non-bailable section in his handwriting in the court, when he had no sanction from his authorities. The same section (67A of the IT Act) was missing in the FIR and in the next remand application. They also impounded our passports and returned them to us only after the Bombay High Court intervened.” The duo has also written to Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy, but has not received any response. They alleged that apart from booking a counter-complaint against Mr. Karnik, the police have not taken any action. “We feel that the police misused their power under political pressure. They did not even summon us for investigation. And now they are playing delay tactics,”