The procedure in filing the case diary was not as mandated and custodial interrogation of Rane was not needed, said the judicial magistrate first class in his order.
The court granted Rane cash bail of Rs 15,000, and imposed a condition to appear in the Mahad City police station on August 30 and September 13. The police were asked to issue him a seven-day notice for seeking his voice sample.
Minutes after midnight, Rane walked out of the court. He was present throughout the remand and bail hearing, which began at 9.30 pm.
The court had rejected a seven-day police custody plea and remanded Rane to magisterial or judicial custody after which it heard his bail plea and granted him bail.
Rane, recently inducted in the Union cabinet as minister of micro, small and medium enterprises, was produced before the Mahad local court in Raigad district around 8pm and there was a 45-minute hearing, where district government pleader Bhushan Salvi sought seven days’ police custody arguing that the remarks made by the minister were aimed at lowering the reputation of the CM and more investigation was needed.
Senior counsel Rajendra Shirodkar, who appeared for Rane in Mahad, argued against custody, saying no custodial interrogation was required. He also said the case and Rane’s arrest were politically motivated. Even if his remarks are taken as alleged, there was no case made out of promoting disharmony or ill-will to attract the FIR. He said the arrest was unlawful as no notice was issued to him by the police first to seek his explanation, though mandated by the law for offences which, like the ones invoked against him, attract less than seven years’ imprisonment.
Section 41A of CrPC requires a notice to be issued to a person for his or her appearance at the police station to give an explanation before an arrest. A person can be arrested only after citing reason.
Lawyer Aniket Nikam had tried to file a plea for an urgent hearing in Bombay high court on Tuesday just before Rane’s arrest, but could not due to technical reasons. So, there was no hearing on Tuesday. “On Wednesday, we will approach the HC for an urgent hearing with a quashing petition,” advocate Shirodkar told TOI. Before the HC, he will be challenging the validity of the arrest and proceedings against him.
The FIRs against Rane were registered in Mahad, Nashik Cyber police station and Pune, and also in Thane on Tuesday.
The police have filed four FIRs against the Union minister for his controversial statement under IPC sections concerned with causing disharmony or enmity and breach of peace.
BJP hit back, with national president J P Nadda calling Rane’s arrest “a violation of constitutional values” and a reaction to the support his party was gathering during the yatra. BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said, “BJP does not support Rane’s statement against the chief minister. But we do not support the government’s actions. The government is misusing police to take revenge. We are strongly behind him.” BJP also recalled the frequent use of violent language by the Shiv Sena‘s functionaries against its rivals, especially a video of an Uddhav Thackeray speech in 2018 saying he “felt like hitting Yogi Adityanath with his own footwear” for allegedly disrespecting Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut defended Rane’s arrest, saying, “When someone threatens to hit the chief minister, won’t there be action from police and courts?” Sena MP Vinayak Raut wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking Rane’s removal from the Union Cabinet. NCP, which is part of the MVA government, also objected to Rane’s statement. “An insult to the chief minister is an insult to the people of Maharashtra,” said NCP minister Jayant Patil.
Before his arrest, a defiant Rane said, “I said if I was there, I would have slapped the chief minister. I did not say I will slap him. So this is not an offence. When the chief minister said a BJP MLC Prasad Lad’s face should be broken, why was no action taken against him?”
The bad blood between Rane and the Shiv Sena goes back a long way. The Union minister had begun his political career with the Sena and rose to become chief minister in 1999. He had exited the party in 2005, after challenging Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership. The Sena had reacted immediately to Rane’s statement against Thackeray, with a party worker lodging a complaint against him in Raigad’s Mahad taluka on Monday. On Monday night, Rane moved to the adjoining Ratnagiri district. By Tuesday morning, over 500 Yuva Sena workers gathered outside Rane’s house in Mumbai’s Juhu, ostensibly in response to a tweet from his son Nitesh, “daring” them to do so. The demonstration snowballed into violence as Sainiks clashed with BJP supporters resulting in police lathicharge. The two groups pelted stones at each other. The Sainiks broke police barricades leading to Rane’s residence. Ten policemen and two Sena workers were injured.
Meanwhile, by Tuesday afternoon, Rane had moved to the Golwalkar memorial project site in Ratnagiri after holding a party meeting. He was detained by Ratnagiri police superintendent Mohit Kumar Garg and taken to the Sangameshwar police station where he was handed over to the Raigad police team. BJP workers protested inside the police station and later blocked the Mumbai-Goa highway.
Rane was later taken to Mahad in Raigad. He was formally arrested by Raigad police and produced before a judicial magistrate in Mahad, who granted him bail.