New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Maharashtra police to go ahead with its investigation against a lawyer who was accused of illegally possessing call detail records (CDRs) of actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui's wife.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud set aside the Bombay High Court verdict and said it should not have issued a writ of habeas corpus directing the police to produce advocate Rizwan Siddique.
It also expunged the observations made by the Bombay High Court in its March 21 judgement against the police officials in the case.
The top court said that the high court should not have made scathing observations against the Investigating Officer without giving him opportunity to offer his explanation on affidavit.
The high court order had held that in arresting advocate Rizwan Siddique, the Thane Police had acted in a "highhanded" manner and had failed to follow "due process of law".
"Suffice it to observe that since no writ of habeas corpus could be issued in the fact situation of the present case, the HC should have been loath to enter upon the merits of the arrest in absence of any challenge to the judicial order passed by the Magistrate granting police custody till March 23, 2018 and more particularly for reasons mentioned in that order of the Magistrate...
"As aforesaid, even though this appeal succeeds, since the respondent's husband Rizwan Alam Siddique has already been released after the impugned judgment, the IO may proceed against him in connection with the stated crime registered as FIR No.I?31/2018 strictly in accordance with law and not merely because the impugned order has been set aside," the bench said.
The top court clarified that it was not expressing any opinion regarding the guilt of the accused or correctness of the charges levelled against him.
The high court had directed the Thane Police to release from their custody advocate Rizwan Siddique, who was arrested on March 16 for allegedly having ordered the illegal procurement of the CDR of actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui's wife.
The high court had also directed the senior-most officials of the Thane Police and the state Home department to inquire into the actions of the Thane Police and if deemed fit, initiate appropriate punitive proceedings against the officials concerned.
Rizwan Siddiqui's wife, Tasneem, had challenged the manner of his arrest and filed a habeas corpus petition in the high court.
In the plea, she claimed that her husband Rizwan Siddiqui had received a witness summon from the Thane Crime Branch Unit one on February 14.
However, around 10 pm on March 16, Thane Crime Branch officials came to his office and while recording the statement, arrested him without giving him any notice under Section 41(A) of the CrPC to give him time to make an appearance before the police, the plea read.
It alleged that the Thane police kept him in wrongful and illegal custody.
The state, however, told the high court that the Thane Crime Branch had attempted to serve the 41(A) notice on Rizwan Siddiqui.
But because he refused to accept it, he was arrested, the prosecution said.
Section 41 (A) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) sets guidelines for a prosecuting agency to arrest a person without warrant.
However, the court noted that while the notice was issued on March 15 asking Rizwan Siddiqui to appear before it on March 17 at 11 am, he was arrested before he could visit the police.