Mumbai, Mar 29 (PTI) A magistrate’s court here on Wednesday asked police to probe a complaint against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for allegedly disrespecting the national anthem after the Bombay High Court denied her relief.
Metropolitan Magistrate (Sewree court) P I Mokashi directed the Cuff Parade police station in south Mumbai to conduct an inquiry into the matter and submit a report by April 28.
Local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) functionary Vivekanand Gupta had approached the magistrate’s court with a complaint alleging that Banerjee did not stand up immediately when the national anthem was sung at an event here during her visit in December 2021.
She sang it while sitting before standing up and singing two more verses, and then left the venue abruptly, he alleged.
A First Information Report should be registered against her under the Prevention of Insults to the National Honour Act, he demanded.
Earlier in the day, Justice Amit Borkar of the Bombay High Court dismissed Banerjee’s application challenging the sessions court’s order of January 2023 sending the matter back to the magistrate’s court.
Banerjee, in her application, had said the sessions court (special court for cases against MPs and MLAs), instead of quashing the summons and remitting the matter to magistrate, ought to have quashed the complaint itself.
The sessions court had noted that the magistrate did not comply with sections 200 and 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Under these sections, a magistrate can postpone the issuance of summons and carry out an inquiry herself or himself or direct the concerned police station to do it.
Banerjee’s lawyer Majeed Memon said that holding an inquiry under these sections would cause unnecessary harassment and embarrassment to the CM, who is a public servant.
Justice Borkar of the HC, however, said the purpose of holding an inquiry under sections 200 and 202 is to decide whether there is sufficient ground to proceed.
“Direction to hold such an inquiry does not cause any prejudice to the accused. Ultimately if it is found after holding such inquiry that no case is made out, the magistrate is bound to pass order in accordance with law,” the HC said.
Justice Borkar also refused to accept Memon’s argument that the sessions court in its order has observed that the ingredients of section 3 (preventing or causing disturbance while singing the national anthem) of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act were not made out.
“There is no finding recorded by sessions court that offence under section 3 is not made out,” he said.
The sessions court’s order not to decide the matter on merit but remit it to the magistrate instead was “in consonance” with a past Supreme Court order and “hence no fault can be found,” Justice Borkar said.
Gupta had first filed a complaint with the Cuffe Parade police station. After no action was taken on it, he approached the Metropolitan Magistrate.