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Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan's Jaipur arrest: Why bail power with city police? asks PUCL

Counterview Desk 

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a well-known human rights organisation, has sought urgent release Chandrashekhar Azad and his 21 associates, arrested in Jaipur, insisting, the Covid Health Assistants (CHAs), whose protest they were supporting, should be “allowed to continue with their protests and rallies.”
In a statement, PUCL-Rajasthan demanded “remove the magisterial powers of bail from the Jaipur police commissionerate”, stating, “The use of this executive power has no judicial safeguards in Jaipur, with the bail lying entirely within the police apparatus.”
This became the main reason why “the Executive Magistrate (who is a DyP of the Jaipur police commissionerate) arbitrarily sent Azad to judicial custody without providing the accused any opportunity to be heard and bail application to be filed”, it added.

Text:

The PUCL-Rajasthan condemns the illegal arrest of Chandrashekhar Azad (Ravan), the President of the Bhim Army, by the Vidhyakpuri thana of the Jaipur Police Commissionerate, from Hotel Gangaur in Jaipur. What was the urgency to arrest them in the middle of the night of the 1st and 2nd July 2021, at 12.30 am. The other 21 accused all Dalits who were with Chandra Shekhar in the hotel were also dragged out from their rooms and all 22 were arrested u/s 151 of the CrPC.
Chandrashekhar Azad had come to support the struggle of the Covid Health Assistants, CHA. who were sitting on dharna demanding that they be regularised for the last two months. On 1st evening before the arrest, the Bhim army workers had met the DCP Jaipur south, Mridul Kachhawa and agreed that they would give up on the protest and rally of the 2nd July, but they would like to submit a Memorandum to the CM which the police could receive the on behalf of the CM, as the Bhim army were cognizant of the tense situation in the city and State.
According to Dharmendra Kumar Jatav of the Bhim army they had convinced the CHA protestors that after the RSS rally of the 3rd July, 2021 they would take out theirs .But the police attitude towards the protestors has been very biased, on the 30th June, about 200 of the CHA protestors were evicted from the dharnasthal in the middle of rain showers, sexually attacking Isha Sharma a media person who was held by four policeman snatching her mobile.
It is our understanding that the use of sec 151 CrPC the provision to arrest Mr Azad, makes a mockery of the freedom of speech and expression. It is worth repeating that the police under Section 151 has the power to arrest, on ‘knowing of the design to commit any cognizable offence’. Of which there was no evidence, instead they were in a dialogue with the police. It is clear that the police are exercising their unbridled power of preventive detention and denying Mr. Azad his constitutional right to protest.
The use of this executive power has no judicial safeguards in Jaipur, with the bail lying entirely within the police apparatus. The Executive Magistrate (who is a Dy SP of the Jaipur police commissionerate) arbitrarily sent Azad to judicial custody without providing the accused any opportunity to be heard and bail application to be filed.

How Chandrashekhar and his associates were denied a hearing

The facts of the 2nd July evening are as follows: The lawyers were at the Jaipur collectorate where the Magistrate of the south district sits, they had come with sureties. But then suddenly the Executive magistrate left the premises at around 5pm. Two lawyers walked up to the room of the magistrate, they heard the clerk talk over the phone that the Magistrate had left to do his sitting 15 kms away at the Sanganer Sadar thana, where all the 22 accused had been taken.
The clerk also added that the seal and order sheet had been taken by the Executive Magistrate, only the display numbers of the warrants had to be added to the order sheet. They were further shocked to over hear that the 22 accused would be sent into judicial custody. 
That the police had decided on arbitrarily sending the 22 to jail without a hearing, was illegal so two people, one who was very senior, rushed to the Sanganer Sadar Thana with the sureties, where the magistrate had relocated himself, they said they had come with sureties, they were also abused and made to sit in the thana and threatened with arrest. They asked for the papers of the judicial custody order passed by the Magistrate, they were not given anything.
We are deeply concerned by the misuse of the uncontrolled and arbitrary state power which seeks to quash the emergence of any dissenting voice even before the dissent is expressed by use of the power of preventive detention as encoded in Section 151 of the CrPC and the bail lying with the police as Magistrate.
We demand unconditional release of Chandrashekhar Azad and his 21 colleagues, let the CHA protestors continue with their protests and demand the removal of the magisterial powers of bail from the police of the Jaipur police Commissionerate and restored to the SDM after amending the Jaipur Police Commissionerate Act.
Of the 21 arrested with Chandrashekar Azad are Anil Denwal, Jaipur, Amit Kumar, Jitendra Hatwal Valimiki, Jaipur, Vikram, Satpal Chaudhary and others.

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