Hoisting a saffron flag and shouting slogans does not amount to an offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Bombay High Court said while granting pre-arrest bail to a man booked under the law.
A division bench of Justices I A Mahanty and A M Badar recently granted anticipatory bail to Rahul Shashikant Mahajan in a case lodged against him by the Kalyan police under provisions of the Act.
Mahajan approached the high court after a special court rejected his anticipatory bail application last year.
In July 2018, the high court had granted him interim protection from arrest.
According to Mahajan, the First Information Report (FIR), dated January 3, 2018, does not reflect the commission of any offence under the Atrocities Act.
He said the role attributed to him in the FIR is only of raising slogans and hoisting a saffron flag.
The FIR was lodged against Mahajan and others in connection with alleged protests at Kalyan in neighbouring Thane district after the communal violence at Bhima-Koregaon village in Pune on January 2, 2018.
The police opposed the plea and said under the Act, an accused cannot be granted bail or pre-arrest bail.
"Allegations against the appellant/accused are to the effect that he hoisted a saffron flag and shouted slogans 'Jai Bhavani, Jai Mahadev, Jai Shivray'," the HC said in its order.
"We are of the considered opinion that hoisting a saffron flag and shouting slogans would not amount to any offence punishable under the Atrocities Act," the judges said.
Hence, the condition that the accused booked under the Act cannot be granted bail is not applicable, the court added.