Home minister RR Patil is under pressure from the Nationalist Congress Party to arrest Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, who has been shown on television channels inciting his party men to protest violently.
Addressing his party cadres on Sunday, Thackeray exhorted them not to pay toll and hit back if asked to pay.
After Thackeray’s statement, hundreds of MNS workers in Kolhapur, Airoli and other places vandalised toll booths and created mayhem. Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, who is also from the NCP, demanded strict action against those instigating and indulging in violence.
Nawab Mallik, NCP spokesperson, also called for tough action against Thackeray.
Legal experts said Thackeray can be booked for instigating his party workers to vandalise toll booths across the state. However, the catch is that either there has to be a specific complaint against him or the police should gather evidence showing his indirect involvement in the acts.
Senior counsel Raja Thakare, who appears as special public prosecutor for CBI and ATS, said the police should have some evidence to link Thackeray to the incidents.
“Then, he can be booked either for conspiracy [section 120(b)] of the Indian Penal Code or common intention [section 34],” said Thakare.
A senior police officer said Thackeray’s speech, which was on television channels, is proof enough of his involvement. “We can arrest him but we should get orders from the home department because of the sensitivities involved,” he added.
A few years ago, the police had registered criminal offences against Thackeray when he instigated violence against north Indians. The Mumbai police commissionerate is waiting for three years for the home department’s permission to prosecute Thackeray.
Technically there is no bar against registering an offence for instigating people to commit an illegal act. “This amounts to abetment to crime and hence can be tried by the law,” said senior counsel Amit Desai.
The police have arrested MNS workers for vandalising toll booths. “At this stage, the MNS chief need not be named. The police can always investigate, gather sufficient evidence then add his name,” said a senior advocate, who did not wish to be named.