23 Mumbai jewellers allege they were jailed for refusing to pay bribe
A group of 23 jewellers today filed a petition in the Bombay High Court seeking action against six policemen for illegally detaining them at police station under false charges as they had refused to pay them bribe.
Hearing their plea, Justice Ajay Khanwilkar and Justice A R Joshi directed the police department and Maharashtra government to produce on August 6 the case papers that include statement of jewellers, recorded by a magistrate's court, about alleged harassment by the staff of Mulund police station.
The petition, filed by Mulund Jewellers Welfare Association, alleged that its 23 members were summoned to the police station on January 31 and asked to pay the "hafta" (bribe) saying one of the traders had bought jewellery from a thief. The petitioner said that smaller jewellers were asked to cough up Rs 5000 per month while the bigger ones Rs 10,000. However, as they refused to give in to their demand, senior police inspector Jeevajirao Jadhav allegedly ordered their arrest under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on false charges and put them behind bars.
The petition says that the jewellers were arrested under IPC sections 144 (joining unlawful assembly with deadly weapon), 145 (continuing in unlawful assembly), 151 (continuing in unlawful assembly of five or more persons after knowing that it has been commanded to disperse) and 163 (person who obtains for himself or others illegal gratification).
During their production before a magistrate's court in Mulund on February 1, the jewellers complained of unlawful detention and physical and mental torture against the policemen.
The court then sent them for medical test and recorded their statements before granting them bail. Petitioner's Counsel, Satyam Dube, alleged in the high court that the arrest of the jewellers was "illegal and on false charges". Hearing their plea, the high court today called for the case papers in the metropolitan magistrate's court where their statements had been recorded.