Other States

M.P. lawyer ‘thrashed’ by police booked

Lawyer Deepak Bundele.

Lawyer Deepak Bundele.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

FIR relies on police log book and statements of witnesses, including 3 members of Rashtriya Hindu Sena

Nearly three months after a lawyer on his way to hospital in Betul was reportedly beaten up by the police, a case has been registered against him for allegedly violating prohibitory orders and manhandling personnel.

On March 23, when policemen on lockdown duty spotted lawyer Deepak Bundele not wearing a face mask “without a valid reason,” they inquired with him. But he reportedly opposed the inquiry, “abused personnel and manhandled them after getting agitated,” the FIR said.

Further, the FIR said Mr. Bundele reportedly threatened the personnel by saying he was a “senior advocate” at the (Madhya Pradesh) High Court. The case was registered on June 18 under Sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 294 (obscene acts and songs) of the Indian Penal Code.

Statements of witnesses

The FIR, based on a complaint filed by the Betul Kotwali police station incharge, relies upon the police log book and statements of witnesses, including of three members of the Rashtriya Hindu Sena, a right-wing group, who claim Mr. Bundele “fell on the ground on his own and started flapping his limbs on the ground and hitting himself with his hands.” This is according to their statements submitted before the Madhya Pradesh High Court on June 29 by the State government.

On May 17, two policemen who visited Mr. Bundele, a diabetic, to record his statement told him he was thrashed as the police mistook him for a Muslim, as he sported a beard, according to an audio recording he took during the meeting.

Further, Mr. Bundele had sought the video recording of the area where the incident had occurred under the Right to Information Act, 2005 in March. However, the government submitted before the court a letter of Inspector (Radio) Betul which said the CCTV footage of March 23 wasn’t available. “On the server, CCTV footage stays safe only for 30 days after which it automatically gets deleted from the system,” read the letter to the Sub-Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP), Betul. Mr. Bundele had on March 27 even appealed to the Director General of the Police to keep the footage safe.

Madhya Pradesh High Court Judge Nandita Dubey on Tuesday granted a week’s time to Deputy Advocate General Vivek Sharma, appearing for the respondent, to file a reply along with the CCTV footage.

The government further submitted a direction of the SDOP on June 22 to the in-charge of the police station, under which the incident had occurred, to register a case on the same day itself against unidentified persons based on Mr. Bundele’s complaint. A police official at the station, requesting anonymity, told The Hindu, “We have not registered any such case as of now.”

Mr. Bundele said he reposed faith in the court and hoped for justice. “No matter the submissions, the rule of law will prevail,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 8:26:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/mp-lawyer-thrashed-by-police-booked/article31957281.ece

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