The Bombay high court on Wednesday asked the 13 students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who have been booked for obstructing thedemolition of illegal slums, to meet the Deputy Commissioner of Police(DCP) and explain their stand.
While asking the students to meet the DCP, a division benchof Justices N H Patil and Anuja Prabhudesai observed that no person should tryto obstruct a government servant from performing his duty. The court was hearing a petition filed by the studentsseeking to quash the complaint filed against them under section 186(obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) and 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.
The students claim that they have been working with the slumdwellers for some time for their project. Claiming that they were notobstructing the demolition, the students said that they were just inquiringwith the authorities since the slum dwellers were not given any demolition notice.
Additional public prosecutor Mankunwar Deshmukh, however,told the court that the police had tried to reason with the students and toldthem that the slums were illegal encroachments. "We have statements from witnesses saying that despite thepolice reasoning with them, the students misbehaved and committed the offence.Even now they are not cooperating with the investigation and are behavingadamant," she said.
The students however denied the claim and said that they areready to apologise. Justice Patil said: "You cannot obstruct a governmentofficial from doing his duty. The students might have used an authoritativetone with the police. Ask the students to go meet the Deputy Commissioner ofPolice of that area and explain their stand. If he is convinced then good." The HC has kept the petition for hearing after two weeks.