Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has rapped police for arresting a 49-year-old man under CrPc provisions on the ground that he was sipping tea in a `suspicious` manner at a stall in Kolhapur.
The man was having tea near Shivaji University in Rajarampuri area of Kolhapur in morning hours of February 22 this year.
"This is bewildering. We were unaware that the law required anyone to give an explanation for having tea, whether in the morning, noon or night," said a bench which quashed and set aside the police action against the accused, Vijay Patil.
According to police, Patil did not give satisfactory explanation as to why he was having "chai" (tea) in suspicious manner at the stall. He was held under section 151 of CrPc for suspicious conduct and a Magistrate asked him to furnish a bond of good conduct. Being aggrieved, he moved the court.
"One might take tea in a variety of ways, not all of them always elegant or delicate, some of them perhaps even noisy. But we know of no way to drink tea `suspiciously`.
"The ingestion of a cup that cheers demands no explanation. And while `cutting chai` is permissible, now even fashionable, cutting corners with the law is not," said Justices S C Dharmadhikari and G S Patel in a recent order.
The petitioner said his arrest was at 11 am in the morning, but the station diary put the time of arrest at 3.30 pm. It is on this basis that he mounted his claim for damages for illegal detention, but the court opined that in its view it was a subsidiary matter. The impugned orders under the CrPC presented far more fundamental problems.
Prosecutor K V Saste referred to affidavit filed by V T Jadhav, police sub-inspector of Rajarampuri police station, which alleged that Patil was a hardened criminal, habitually drawn to criminal activity. The police, therefore, were justified in acting as they did in apprehending him before he committed yet another offence, he submitted.
The court, however, disagreed with the prosecutor. "There seems to be very little justification for the impugned orders or even for taking the view the police claim they did. Why exactly his behaviour was thought to be suspicious, we are not told. We are only told that he has a very long line of criminal cases," said the judges.