Videocon case against three Ugandan citizens quashed

The right to life and liberty, enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution, is available even to foreign nationals, the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday and quashed an FIR registered by the Maharashtra government against three Ugandan citizens, including an Advisor to the President of Uganda.

A vacation Bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and Ranjan Gogoi slammed the State government for filing a criminal case of cheating based on a complaint given by Videocon.

The Bench said the action of the Mumbai police in registering the FIR had brought bad name to India. It directed the police to release their passports immediately.

“Article 21 of the Constitution [right to life and liberty] applies to all citizens, whether Indian or foreign nationals. Their right to liberty could not be restrained by the police due to a business dispute. Our country gets a bad name because of acts of a few police officers and it is unfortunate that the Mumbai police, instead of protecting the rights of these foreign nationals, filed an FIR against them and the charges are baseless.”

The Bench said no offence had been made out against them.

Extortion charge

Isacc Isanga Musumba, lawyer and senior Advisor to the President of Uganda (equivalent to the post of a Minister); Mawanda Michael Maranga, Member of Parliament; and Magoola Mathias, a businessman, were charged with extortion by the police on a complaint by Videocon officials and their passports were impounded. Counsel for the petitioners told the court that they came to India in April to settle a business dispute with Videocon.

Stopped from leaving

In their petition, they submitted that from April 19 they were restrained by the police from leaving the country without a formal order of arrest. The lookout notice issued against them was a colourable exercise of police powers smeared with malice, ill will and was grossly spiteful, prejudicing thereby their fundamental rights.

]They said the high handed and illegal restraints put up by the police on them required to be looked into seriously in the context of friendly relations between two countries.

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