Assault on cops: Bombay High Court refuses to quash case against Chandrababu Naidu [13.5.2024]

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has refused to quash a case against former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and TDP leader Nakka Ananda Babu for allegedly assaulting police personnel in Maharashtra in 2010.

A division bench of Justices Mangesh Patil and Shailesh Brahme in its judgement on May 10 said it has "no manner of doubt that there is enough material to reveal complicity" of both Naidu and Babu in the commission of the alleged crime.

The court dismissed the petitions filed by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Naidu and Babu seeking to quash the FIR lodged against them with the Dharmabad police in Maharashtra's Nanded district.

The FIR was registered on charges of assaulting or using criminal force against a public servant, causing harm with dangerous weapons, rash acts endangering lives of others, intentional insult with an intent to provoke breach of peace and criminal intimidation.

The bench in its order said it has "no manner of doubt that there is enough material to reveal complicity of both the applicants (Naidu and Babu) in the commission of the crime."
"The FIR expressly alleges about the applicant accused no. 1 (Naidu) having instigated fellow prisoners and even threatened of there being a war between the two states," the HC said.

The bench noted that witnesses in their statements have expressly attributed role of Naidu and Babu in commission of the offence and medical certificates show many of the police officials sustained injuries.

It is clear that the offence was committed by sharing a common intention to carry out assault on police personnel, the high court said.

The FIR was lodged promptly and even the injured police personnel were medically examined immediately, it said.

"There is enough material revealing complicity of the applicants (Naidu and Babu) in commission of the crime with which they have been charged and it would not be appropriate to quash the crime and the criminal case," the high court said.

The bench dismissed both the petitions but extended the interim protection granted earlier till July 8 at the request of the duo's counsel Sidharth Luthra.

In July 2010, Naidu and Babu were arrested along with 66 associates by the Dharmabad police in connection with another case pertaining to protest and agitation.

Naidu, Babu and the others were remanded to judicial custody in the case and kept in a temporary prison at the Government Rest House in Dharmabad.

When their judicial custody was extended, the Maharashtra Prisons' DIG ordered for them to be shifted to the Aurangabad central prison.

However, Naidu and Babu refused to be shifted and allegedly started hurling abuses in Telugu and English against the jail authorities.

When the jailer requested the duo to board an air-conditioned bus, Naidu and Babu allegedly declared that if they were forced to board the bus then there would be a conflict between the two states.

The allegation against the duo is that they instigated the other accused persons and started using criminal force and even assaulted some police officials.

Additional force was called and the accused, including Naidu and Babu, were shifted to the Aurangabad central prison.

Senior advocate Luthra, appearing for Naidu and Babu, argued that the FIR pertaining to the agitation was withdrawn and the magistrate had discharged all the accused in that case immediately.

However, the police machinery was now implicating the duo in the assault case.

Luthra argued the allegations in this case were false and concocted.

Under provisions of the Prisons Act, only the superintendent of prisons has the power to lodge FIRs, he said.

The informant in the present case was a senior jailer who could not have acted independently and did not have the power to lodge an FIR, Luthra said.

The court, however, refused to accept the contention and said the accused have been booked under provisions of the Indian Penal Code, which are independent offences, and not the Prisons Act.

"The impugned crime and the chargesheet merely seek to attract provisions of the Indian Penal Code," the HC said.

Hence, Luthra's submission would not be legally tenable, it added.

The bench said the Prisons Act does not lay down any mechanism or procedure for lodging FIRs under the Indian Penal Code in respect of crimes committed within the premises of a prison.

13 May 2024