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Lalu challenges summon for violating poll rally limit

Written by: Staff

Mumbai, Apr 26: Railway Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal President Lalu Prasad today moved the Bombay High Court challenging a (summon) issued to him by a local court of Manmad in Nashik district, for allegedly addressing a campaign rally beyond the prescribed time time during the 2004 Assembly elections in Maharashtra.

The petition, filed by Mr Prasad through his lawyer P G Sabnis, prayed the court to quash and set aside the summon and grant a stay on the proceedings of the local court.

It will come up for hearing tomorrow before Justice R S Mohite in the High Court.

Mr Prasad has challenged the summon issued by the judicial magistrate first class of Manmad, directing him to appear before the court on April 29 in response to a criminal complaint filed by an executive magistrate, who had named the Union minister as one of the speakers during the rally on October 7, 2004, at Chhatriya High School, Manmad, in which permission for the use of loudspeaker was between 1500 hrs and 1800 hrs.

However, according to the complaint, the meeting allegedly concluded at 1827 hrs, and the loudspeaker was used 27 minutes beyond the prescribed time.

Manmad police had then registered an offence against Mr Prasad u/s 36 and 37 of the Bombay Police Act for violation of the model code of conduct and flouting of rules.

After the complaint was lodged, the RJD president was exempted from personal hearing in the court.

On January 16 this year, police filed a chargesheet against Mr Prasad following which the court had directed him to appear before it and execute a bail bond. In his petition, the Railway Minister claimed the executive magistrate, who was nominated as an observer by the Election Commission, in his complaint to police neither named him (Lalu) nor disclosed the offences committed by him. But, his name was incorporated later at the instance of a representative of the EC, he alleged.

Mr Prasad also challenged the validity of the process as the maximum punishment for the alleged offence is one year and a fine of Rs 5,000. But, in this case, police filed chargesheet after a gap of more than one-and-a-half year, hence, it is barred by the law and is legally not permissible, he said.

The petitioner also denied that he continued his address after the prescribed time and said the complaint is ''false, baseless and filed with a view to harass him.'' He further pointed out that the local court's order is perverse, improper, illegal and does not specify any reason, and signifies ''non-application of mind'' before taking cognisance of the complaint.

Mr Prasad also said according to section 36 of the Bombay Police Act, the case should be registered only against the organiser and not against the speakers.


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