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Police State

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For holding a peaceful demonstration protesting the felling of some 40 odd trees (supposedly in the way of the BDA's signal-free corridor - check this), the state (through Koramangala PS) has now filed cases under Sec 143, 146, 147, 141, 341 read with 149, against 5 prominent members (+ others) of the Koramangala community.

Apparently, a notification had been issued a few years back, whereby any group, wanting hold any sort of a meeting, had to obtain prior permission from the police. A few of Civil Society groups had expressed their disquiet over the matter then, saying that it could be put to mis-use. And, exactly as they had predicted, it has now happened. Perhaps it is time the Civil Society came together to demand repeal of that provision, if necessary with the court's help.

It is a crying shame that such distortions of the law take place in the Mahatma's own land.

Muralidhar Rao


dvsquare's picture

Lets spread the bad actions of police on FB, twitter etc

133 users have liked.

Murali Sir,

Lets spread the police action of victimizing the peaceful members, spread it over FB, twitter and create a huge group of supporters, we may need further protests on this regard going forward, lets aware all people across bangalore.


idontspam's picture

This is an inflexion point...

121 users have liked.

This is an inflexion point... the actions over the past year on various issues like sankey road widening, now this, all the elevated dreamways of the future, commuter rail malengineering etc should make the politicians sit up & take notice. Hard work in solving difficult problems will be appreciated, racketeering will be punished in the courts of law

In the next 5 years the real intents behind their actions are going to percolate to all segments of society. The nature of politics has to change. There is too much arrogance in them which can lead to disastrous consequences for the state & the people of the country. Servant leadership will be learned the hard way.

murali772's picture

Legal education

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The IPC (Indian Penal Code) sections, on the basis of which the FIR was made out, are described below:

Sec 141 (unlawful assembly)
An assembly of five or more persons is designated an “unlawful assembly”, if the common object of the persons composing that assembly is:
a) To overawe by criminal force, or show of criminal force, 1(the Central or any State Government or Parliament or the Legis­lature of any State), or any public servant in the exercise of the lawful power of such public servant; or
b) To resist the execution of any law, or of any legal process; or
c) To commit any mischief or criminal trespass, or other offence; or
d) By means of criminal force, or show of criminal force, to any person, to take or obtain possession of any property, or to deprive any person of the enjoyment of a right of way, or of the use of water or other incorporeal right of which he is in possession or enjoyment, or to enforce any right or supposed right; or
e) By means of criminal force, or show of criminal force, to compel any person to do what he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do what he is legally entitled to do.

Explanation - An assembly which was not unlawful when it assembled, may subsequently become an unlawful assembly.

Sec 142 (being member of unlawful assembly)
Whoever, being aware of facts which render any assembly an unlawful assembly, intentionally joins that assembly, or continues in it, is said to be a member of an unlawful assembly.

Sec 143
Whoever is a member of an unlawful assembly, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six month, or with fine, or with both.
Classification of offence: Punishment—Imprisonment for 6 months, or fine, or both—cognizable—Bailable—Triable by any Magistrate—Non-compoundable.

Sec 146 (Rioting)
Whenever force or violence is used by an unlawful assembly, or by any member thereof, in prosecution of the common object of such assembly, every member of such assembly is guilty of the offence of rioting.

Sec 147 (punishment for rioting)
Whoever is guilty of rioting, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

Classification of offence: Punishment—Imprisonment for 2 years, or fine, or both—Cognizable—Bailable—Triable by any Magistrate—Non-compoundable.

Sec 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object)
If an offence is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in prosecution of the common object of that assembly, or such as the members or that assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of that object, every person who, at the time of the committing of that offence, is a member of the same assembly, is guilty of that offence.

Classification of offence: Punishment—The same as for the offence—According as offence is cognizable or non-cognizable—According as offence is bailable or non-bailable—Triable by court by which the offence is triable—Non-compoundable.

Scope and applicability:
a) When the charge is under sec 149, the presence of the accused as part of unlawful assembly is sufficient for conviction even if no overt act is imputed to him; Yunis alias Kariya v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 2003 SC 539.
b) Conviction by taking recourse to sec 149 cannot be made out unless five specified objects enumerated in section 141 are not proved; Ramashish v. State of Bihar, 1999 (6) JT 560: 1999 (2) JCC (SC) 471.
c) Even if no overt act is imputed to a particular person, when the charge is under section 149, the presence of the accused as part of unlawful assembly is sufficient for conviction; Yunis alias Kariya v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 2003 SC 539.

Joint liability of members of unlawful assembly:
a) It is well settled that once a membership of an unlawful assembly is established, it is not incumbent on the prosecution to establish whether any specific overt act has been assigned to any accused. Mere membership of the unlawful assembly is sufficient; State of Maharashtra v. Joseph Mingel Koli, (1997) 2 Crimes 228 (Bom).
b) Every member of an unlawful assembly is vicariously liable for the acts done by others either in the prosecution of the common object of the unlawful assembly or such which the members of the unlawful assembly knew were likely to be committed; State of Maharashtra v. Joseph Mingel Koli, (1997) 2 Crimes 228 (Bom).

Sec 341 (wrongful restraint)
Whoever wrongfully restrains any person shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term, which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.
Classification of offence: Punishment—Simple imprisonment for 1 month, or fine of 500 rupees, or both—Cognizable—Bailable—Triable by any Magistrate—Compoundable by the person restrained or confined.

non-compoundable: cannot be privately resolved between the parties concerned
cognizable: police can arrest the accused without investigation or warrants

The charges essentially are supposedly on the basis of "unlawful assembly" (sec 141), "rioting" (sec 146), and "wrogful restraint" (sec 341). By no stretch of imagination can any of these apply to the totally peaceful demonstration that was carried out on Sunday. As such, doesn't a case arise for filing a complaint, say with the State Human Rights Commission, against this patently illegal act?

Muralidhar Rao
sanjayv's picture

Would be interesting to see the paperwork

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This is pure harassment.  These sections are so obviously non-applicable that I would love to see how the cops justified filing these complaints in their paper work.

Vasanth's picture

Bangalore Police At the whims of Buerucrats

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Bangalore Police is at the whims of Politicians. People who take the social responsibility of their locality and city, or booked under various acts. Goondas  are roaming around happily.

A complaint booked by a common man like me before 6 months for physical attack has no action yet so far. Everyone saying unless you give them something or you have influence, you wont get any justice.

This sorry state of our City and Country, I feel where are our country is heading. 


murali772's picture

lessons for Civil Society activists

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For those interested in the exact text of the charges made out by the Koramangala police (attached to the FIR), the same may be accessed here (page-1; page-2).

The protest was staged on Sunday, the 27th May, morning. The previous afternoon, an application had been made out to the Koramangala police, seeking permission for the same. The permission was denied, and we were told instead to stage the protest at the Freedom Park, if we wanted to.

Now, this is the part that needs to be questioned. Why should a permission (and, not just informing) be necessary for holding a peaceful protest at the venue (or, anywhere else even, except perhaps some notified areas) where the act (the reason for the protest) was perpetrated?

Whatever, since it had also become an emotional issue with the residents, a decision was taken to stage the protest all the same, taking utmost care not to provide alibi of any kind to the police to frame any kind of charges, whatsoever. There were close to 350 participants, including a large contingent of doctors, nurses, and students from St John's hospital, apart from the Koramangala residents. Everything went off most peacefully, and by around 12 noon, it was all over.

Somewhere along, the Koramangala police however chose to make out an FIR, and by 3.30 PM the same afternoon, had the judicial process set in motion by filing the FIR with the magistrate (as seen in the case description). We had no reason to believe that the police would pursue such a step. It was only 4 days later, on Thursday, that we came to know about it.

The offences listed being cognizable, any time the police could walk into the residences of the accused, and take them into custody. As such, we immediately got in touch with our lawyers, and, by next afternoon, the accused were presented before the magistrate, and anticipatory bail obtained.

Earlier, when I had questioned the official (PSI), who wrote out the FIR (when I went to collect a copy of it), as to how he could make out a charge of "rioting", his immediate response was that derogatory terms like "bloody police" etc were being aired by the protestors. I then told him that he should have made out a charge for that, rather than for rioting. He then changed tack to say that, if I wanted to question anybody, I must talk to the superiors (he specifically mentioned ACP/ DCP), without whose instructions such cases are generally not booked. The next day, in fact, a very senior member of the community went over to meet the DCP. The DCP seemed to suggest that he was not even aware of it all, and, after checking out the details, in fact, has offered to foreclose it by filing a "B" report, soon.

The PSI had also mentioned that they were generally instructed not to act on the FIR. So, essentially, it was an intimidatory tactic, largely to convey the message that "either you behave, or we will get you" - kind of hanging the Democle's sword over your neck.

The surprising part is that the gentlemen concerned, who are generally in the forefront of most of the community activities, have been maintaining very cordial relationship with the police, all these years. As such, it is inconceivable that the police could have initiated such drastic steps, on their own. So, is one then to understand that the politicos pursuing the project, egged on by the contractors, were behind it all? Even so, can the police act in such ways? Where is the accountability? The more and more, one thinks about it, the more and more one gets the feel that the matter needs to be taken to the SHRC, if at least to see that the police thinks a lot more before taking such drastic steps, in future.

Actually, equally tortuous as the jail experience can be, which at worst lasts just 2 nights (if, over a week-end, or more, in case of intervening court holidays), being a bailable offence, is the court procedure, which can stretch on for years on end. And, being a criminal case, you'll generally need to make personal appearances in the court for each hearing. The lawyer handling the case was telling me that, in case the police chose to file a charge-sheet, then we should expect a minimum of two years before achieving closure, even in as "open & shut" a matter as this ( I personally know of another case which is currently running its 4th year, and closure seems still quite some time away). In the meanwhile, with your having to disclose the fact of a criminal case pending against you, your passport and visa applications can run into jeopardy.

May be, this incident provides a lesson, as well as an oppotunity, to the Civil Society to start examining the various provisions leading upto such situations, challenging them, and having the necessary correctives pursued.

Muralidhar Rao
sanjayv's picture

This is what happens ...

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...when checks and balances break down or are insufficient.

I was reading this story above Murali sir, and it reminded me of a quote from yesterday's TOI. They were covering the DC of Mandya (do not remember his name) who is supposedly very popular.  The guy is quoted to say something to the effect "I am only doing my duty.  I do not have to do anything extra-ordinary.  All I have to do is make sure the rules are correctly followed and that I listen to people and normally everything is all right."  Somewhere along the way here, many people are giving up on their duty.

(1) The PSI who has filed a report which is obviously, patently false

(2) The ACP/DCP who caved to pressure and kicked this off

(3) The magistrate, who does not seem to have asked - "riot?  What was the damage? Anybody hurt, injured?"


murali772's picture

Ordinance to rein in rogue policemen

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Police in Karnataka will stop being a law unto themselves if a new ordinance is enforced strictly. The ordinance amends the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, to introduce a host of measures to ensure that the guardians of law don’t become its violators. The ordinance, gazetted on June 1, empowers the state government to set up a security commission and complaints authorities at the state and district levels. While the state security commission will ensure the police function within the framework of law, the complaints authorities will look into allegations of human rights abuses against police officers of all ranks.

- - - The state complaints authority will have three members: a chairman selected from a panel of three retired HC judges set up on the recommendation of the high court chief justice; a retired public servant not below the rank of principal secretary; and a civil-society representative.

For the full report in the ToI, click here.

Surprising coincidence; and none-too-early a step.

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