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Arrest over FB post: Katju demands action against Mumbai cops

November 19, 2012 20:52 IST
Press Council of India chief Markandey Katju on Monday demanded "immediate" action against police personnel for reportedly arresting a woman in Mumbai protesting the shutdown in the city on Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's demise on social networking site Facebook.

In an e-mail to the Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, he warned of "legal consequences" if the CM failed to act. "I will deem it that you as CM are unable to run the state in a democratic manner as envisaged by the Constitution to which you have taken oath and then legal consequences will follow," Katju said.

He demanded that the Chavan immediately order suspension, arrest, chargesheeting and criminal prosecution of the police personnel responsible for arresting the women allegedly on the ground of hurting sentiments.

"To my mind it is absurd to say that protesting against the bandh hurts religious sentiments. Under Article 19 of our Constitution, freedom of speech is guaranteed fundamental right. We are living in a democracy, not a fascist dictatorship."

"In fact, this arrest itself appears to be a criminal act since under sections 341 and 342, it is a crime to wrongfully arrest or wrongfully confine someone who has committed no crime," he said.

At the All India Congress Committee briefing, Congress spokesperson Sandip Dikshit parried questions on the issue saying it is something to which the Maharashtra government will respond. "I have no idea. We will find out," he said to repeated questions on the arrest.

Dikshit, however, justified giving a state funeral to Thackeray saying, " It is in some total that a person's life is evaluated.... His contributions, emotions of citizens and population of the areas...all these things are taken into account before taking a decision on state funeral."

He was responding to questions on why the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government in Maharashtra decided to give a state funeral to Thackeray.

Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy also condemned the arrest, demanding that the CM apologise to the woman for "reckless disregard of the Constitution and fundamental rights by the Maharashtra administration".
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