The sessions court in Dhule district of Maharashtra on Tuesday granted anticipatory bail to Union minister Narayan Rane in a case regarding the alleged defamatory and hateful statement he had made against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in August 2021. Rane’s pre-arrest bail application was allowed by principal district judge R H Mohammad of the Dhule sessions court on a surety of Rs 15,000. The court directed Rane to appear before the police as and when called. Dhule city police had registered a case under Indian Penal Code sections 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 500 (Punishment for defamation), and 505 (statements conducting public mischief) against Rane based on a complaint filed by a Shiv Sena worker. As per the complaint, Rane had made a defamatory statement against Thackeray during a press conference at Mahad in the Raigad district in August 2021.
The complaint stated that the statement was “defamatory and hateful in nature” and had the potential to incite rivalries and differences in two communities of the society. Advocate Aniket Nikam, appearing for the Union minister, said the offence under IPC section 153 (B) is not made out against Rane as the statement was not made against any particular group or class to take the law into their hands.
Nikam also argued that the state has filed different FIRs about the same incident against Rane at different places under separate sections of IPC, which smacks of political malafides. The criticism of elected representatives in power in howsoever strong words must be protected and cannot be a ground to take penal action particularly when the maker of the words had no intention to create any public disharmony, Rane’s plea said. ”Without exciting feelings which generate inclination to cause public disorder by acts of violence, sharp criticism of an elected representative cannot be made subject matter of penal action,” it added. The detailed order is not available yet.
Rane was arrested on August 24 in the Ratnagiri district over his controversial remarks that he would have slapped chief minister Uddhav Thackeray over the latter’s ignorance of the year of India’s independence year.