MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Tuesday came down heavily on the police for illegally detaining a music teacher in a bailable offence and keeping him in a lock-up without his clothes.

“Somebody’s reputation is not important?” asked a division bench, directing DCP (Zone III) Akbar Pathan to retrieve all CCTV footage of Tardeo police station and the lock-up at Saat Rasta, The music teacher’s wife had filed a habeas corpus petition for his forthwith release from illegal detention. Her petition said that in June, a Zero FIR (FIR lodged irrespective of jurisdiction and transferred to concerned station later) was filed at Malad police station on a student’s complaint that the teacher showed her obscene videos. On July 7, the FIR was transferred to Tardeo and the teacher booked under IPC sections 354A (sexual harassment) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman). Her husband visited the police station several times, the petitioner said.
On July 17, on learning that he was to be arrested, his advocate offered to furnish bail. Yet, he was arrested at 9.30pm. The next morning, the advocate rushed to the HC at 10.30am, informing that “he is a teacher having a reputation among peers and students with an unblemished record of 20 years”. At 2.30pm, the judges were told he was released at 1.59pm.

Times View

This is sheer abuse of power. The police have no right to strip an accused, even when the charges against him or her are serious. Everyone enjoys some basic human rights, including the right to dignity. The high court has rightly admonished the cops and ordered compensation.

Prosecutor Prajakta Shinde submitted an affidavit of “unconditional apology” by senior inspector Vivek Shende. He said PSI Priyanka Kadam is a probationary officer and “inadvertently arrested” the music teacher. The judges said “the tenor of the affidavit is justifying detention”.
Advocates Kripashankar Pandey and Darshan Juikar submitted the teacher’s affidavit on how he was forced to strip and even remove a sacred thread. Pandey informed that on Monday a constable called up the teacher “to meet ACP madam” and to sign a bond of good behaviour under CrPC 107 (security for keeping peace in other cases). Shende denied it.

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