Jan Ki Baat Founder and Republic Media Network Consulting Editor Pradeep Bhandari attended his 8th round of summons at the Khar Police Station in Mumbai on 19th December 2020. Every Saturday, between 11 am to 2 pm, he flies down to the city, leaving his personal and professional commitments, only to present himself before the Investigating Officer. This case relates to the coverage of the demolition of actor Kangana Ranaut’s office by BMC officials.
Without an iota of evidence, the police has accused him of being ‘a threat to the peace and harmony of Mumbai city‘, while also calling him a ‘repeat offender’. The fact of the matter remains that Pradeep Bhandari hasn’t skipped a single summon and has followed the due process of law by following the honourable sessions court’s instructions. In fact, he continues to endure this vexatious process despite his lawyers informing the courts that this is nothing but sheer harassment on the part of the police
Since the 17th of October, this young entrepreneur and popular media person has faced close to 35 hours of questioning. On the 15th of October, he was granted anticipatory bail, despite that he was questioned for close to 9 hours on 17th, where for the first time his statement was recorded. On that day, his phones were also illegally seized. The police which then moved court to quash his anticipatory bail, is yet to present arguments on its own application. As per the orders of the Sessions Court, Pradeep can be questioned only on Saturday, between 11 am to 2 pm. The court also directed the police to ensure questioning is recorded on CCTV. Over the last few weeks, every summon has been nothing but a waste of time.
Here are the facts of the case so far:
1) Pradeep Bhandari’s statement was recorded just once, that is on the 17th of October.
2) Pradeep Bhandari has attended every Saturday summon at the Khar Police Station since the 17th of October.
3)19th of December, 2020, was the 8th time he attended the summons taking the total number of hours spent at the police station to 24 + 9, which makes it 33 hours and counting.
4) His phones, all three of them, which were seized from him on the 17th of October, are yet to be returned to him.
5) The case diaries and CCTV footage of the questioning so far haven’t been produced by the police before the court.
6) The police is yet to present arguments on the application seeking cancellation of anticipatory bail, this despite reply filed by Pradeep’s lawyers citing previous judgements.
7) Over the last few weeks, in the name of interrogation, the I/O chats with Pradeep about mundane things, to pass time Pradeep reads the newspaper, sometimes he dozes off, sometimes even the I/O dozes off in those three hours.
8) The police has used the ‘On bandobast duty’ excuse to continue the case endlessly.
9) So far, not only has Pradeep’s time been wasted, close to Rs 1 lakh has been spent only on Pradeep’s to and fro flight tickets.
10) On three occassions, the public prosecutor said she doesn’t have brief in the case, she needs time to go through reply and then came the bandobast excuse on 15th.
11) Pradeep’s lawyers have already made a request seeking cancellation of his Saturday attendance at the Khar Police Station but because of the police’s dilly dallying, there has been no progress on that front so far.
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