Mohan Delkar death case: Bombay HC quashes FIR against UT administrator Praful Khoda Patel, 8 others

The Bombay High Court Thursday allowed pleas by nine persons, including Dadra and Nagar Haveli (DNH) Union Territory Administrator Praful Khoda Patel, seeking to quash a Mumbai Police FIR for the death of Parliamentarian Mohan Delkar on February 22 last year

A division bench of Justices Prasanna B Varale and Shrikant D Kulkarni found “substance and merit in submissions by petitioners and found it a fit case to quash FIR to prevent an abuse of law.” Delkar, 58, a seven-term MP from Dadra and Nagar Haveli (DNH), was found dead in a room at a hotel in Marine Drive.

“Considering all these aspects, we find merit in petition and substance in submissions by petitioners and it is a fit case for the court to exercise its power under section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to prevent an abuse of process of law. The FIR filed by Abhinav Delkar (MP’s son) is thus quashed and set aside,” the bench held.

The Mumbai Police, on March 9, 2021, had registered an FIR on charges of abetment to suicide and under relevant provisions of the Atrocities Act after Delkar’s family members visited the Marine Drive police station and lodged a complaint on behalf of Delkar’s son Abhinav.

The complaint was filed against Patel, then district collector Sandeep Kumar Singh, then Superintendent of Police Sharad Darade, then deputy collector Apurva Sharma, sub-divisional officer Manasvi Jain, police inspector (Silvassa) Manoj Patel, DNH administrative department official Rohit Yadav, political leader Fattesingh Chauhan and then talathi of Silvassa Dilip Patel for allegedly having abetted suicide by “misusing their posts and powers and intentionally conspiring and planning against Delkar”.

The High Court had from time to time continued the interim protection from coercive steps granted on April 27, 2021 based on the state government’s statements.

The division bench had concluded the hearing on July 5 and had reserved its verdict, which it pronounced Thursday.

The accused were booked for offences punishable under Sections 306 (abetment to suicide), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, along with provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The FIR had alleged that Delkar was under pressure for a year prior to his death and that the DNH administration was harassing him to gain control over his institute, SSR College of Pharmacy and Management, and prevented him from contesting further elections.

The accused, in their pleas seeking to quash the Mumbai Police FIR, argued through senior advocates Amit Desai and Mahesh Jethmalani that the allegation was “baseless, false and contrary to the provisions of law”.

The accused had also referred to a March 20, 2021 letter written by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh to then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray wherein Singh had said that while the legal opinion on the suicide of MP Mohan Delkar in Mumbai was that the case should be handed over to Dadra and Nagar Haveli, former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh is insisting that the Mumbai Police register an abetment to suicide FIR on the basis of Delkar’s suicide note naming the UT administrator and other officials so that he could use it for “political mileage”.

The accused persons apprehended that most of them being public servants, if they get arrested in connection with the present FIR, they will be put to “irreparable loss”, which cannot be compensated in terms of money and sought the FIR to be quashed and set aside.

Senior advocate Rafiq Dada, who argued as special counsel for the state along with chief public prosecutor Aruna Pai, opposed the pleas.

On June 27, the bench had perused the suicide note of Delkar placed on record by the state government and the statements recorded by the investigating agency during the probe as well as the report indicating the stage of investigation or progress in the case.

Earlier this year, Mumbai Police had recorded the statements of eight persons and had said that all of them had refuted the allegations made against them.

Since the time of registration of the FIR, the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was set up by Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to probe the suicide matter, had made multiple visits to Dadra and Nagar Haveli and had been collecting evidences against the nine persons booked in the case.

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