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While lamenting without mincing any words the pathetic law and order and prevailing chaotic state of affairs in Patna, we must note that the Patna High Court in a most learned, laudable, landmark, logical and latest oral judgment titled Abhishek Kr. Srivastava vs State of Bihar & Ors. in Criminal Writ Jurisdiction Case No.473 of 2024 arising out of PS. Case No.-109 Year-2024 Thana- Jakkanpur District- Patna that was pronounced just recently on March 5, 2024 has minced just no words to observe in no uncertain terms that the city of Patna appears to not be safe for anyone to live in if lawyers can be attacked by goons late at night. We must note here that the Court had made the remark while condemning the Jakkanpur police at Patna for failing to properly respond to an advocate’s complaint that he and a fellow lawyer were attacked with a kitchen knife by his landlord and his associates. It must also be noted that the Court was hearing a plea filed by one advocate Abhishek Kumar Srivastava. We need to, of course, without fail definitely pay our total unremitting attention here towards the glaring fact that the Single Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice Bibek Chaudhuri pulled up the State police for showing a biased approach towards the landlord and registering a criminal complaint citing relatively minor offences unfairly despite allegations that the accused landlord used a sharp weapon to attack the advocates.

At the very outset, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by the Single Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice Bibek Chaudhuri sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “The record is put up today with some defect notes submitted by the office.”

As we see, the Bench then discloses in para 2 that, “However, the learned Senior counsel on behalf of the petitioner being assisted by almost all the learned counsels of the Patna High Court, cutting across the lines of their affiliation to the respective Associations insist this Court to take up the matter considering the urgency and assurance is made on behalf of the petitioner that by tomorrow i.e. on 6th March, 2024, the defects will be removed. On such assurance the instant writ petition is taken up for admission hearing.”

Truth be told, the Bench mentions in para 3 that, “Mr. Abhishek Kumar Srivastava is a Junior Advocate of Patna High Court. He is pursuing his profession as a budding Advocate staying in a rented accommodation at Patna within the jurisdiction of the Jakkanpur Police Station.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages in para 4 that, “The fact remains that there was some altercation on 1st March, 2024 between the petitioner his co-tenants learned Advocates, who used to reside in the same rented accommodation and the landlord who is arrayed as respondent no. 9, in the instant writ petition, over parking of vehicle. After sometime of altercation, the landlord pounced back over the informant and his associates being other junior Advocates of this Court, who reside in the same tenanted premises with some unknown goons. The petitioner was assaulted and his friend Mr. Ranveer Parwat, Advocate was also severely assaulted with the help of kitchen knife, as a result of which, he received bleeding injury on the left eye brow affecting his left eye also. They were initially medically treated in a local hospital. Thereafter they were shifted to Patna Medical College and Hospital. The informant went to lodge F.I.R. to the Police Station. Initially Police was reluctant to accept the F.I.R., but on much persuasion F.I.R. was received and a case was registered bearing Jakkanpur P.S. Case No. 109 of 2024, under Sections 323/308 of the I.P.C.”

As it turned out, the Bench then reveals in para 5 that, “As a follow up action, the landlord (respondent no. 9) was called to the Police Station and he was honourably released under Section 41(A) of the Cr.P.C.”

Do note, the Bench notes in para 6 that, “Other part of the story is, in order to save the landlord and the goons, who were involved in severely assaulting the learned Advocates, a complaint was made to be lodged by the wife of the landlord bearing Jakkanpur P.S. Case No. 110 of 2024, under Section 354 of the I.P.C. against the petitioner and his Advocate friends, who reside in the same tenanted premises.”

Quite perplexingly, the Bench observes in para 7 that, “Surprisingly enough, when the F.I.R. discloses an assault upon an Advocates with the help of a kitchen knife, which is a sharp cutting weapon. There is no explanation as to why at least F.I.R. was not lodged under Section 326 of the I.P.C. considering the gravity of injury. Secondly, when the F.I.R. discloses that the unarmed young persons pursuing their profession as Advocates, were attacked by the landlord with a bunch of anti-socials and specially, when one of the Advocate was assaulted by sharp cutting weapon on the most vital part of the body, why on due consideration of the prima facie intention of the accused persons, no case under Section 307 of the I.P.C. was instituted. Thirdly, why no case was instituted under Sections 147/148/149 of the I.P.C. when on perusal of the F.I.R. itself it is found that the assailants came in pursuance of their common object to cause physical assault, grievous hurt and in such a manner where intention can be prima facie ascertained of attempt to commit murder.”

Going ahead, the Bench points out in para 8 that, “On the contrary, a case under Sections 323 and 308 of the I.P.C. was registered against respondent no.9 and other unknown persons. The respondent no. 9 was called on the Police Station and he was released under Section 41 (A) of the Cr.P.C. after interrogation.”

Simply put, the Bench then states in para 9 that, “It is contended by the learned Senior Counsel on behalf of the petitioner that this is not a fit case where the accused persons should be released on an undertaking under Section 41(A) of the Cr.P.C.”

Be it noted, the Bench notes in para 10 that, “The legal profession as well as the duties discharged by the learned Advocates are the onerous duty of helping the third pillar of democracy in dispensation of justice. When from the facts and circumstances, it is ascertained that some young Advocates residing in a tenanted flat have been pursuing their profession in their initial stage, this Court is absolutely clueless to note as to why one or two of them would be assaulted by the landlord and his associates, under whom they stay.”

It is worth noting that the Bench notes in para 11 that, “The very registration of case presumably suggests that the Police authority attached to Jakkanpur Police Station has taken the side of respondent no. 9 being the landlord to this unfortunate junior Advocates. Therefore, this Court considers it absolutely necessary to relieve the Police Officer attached the Jakkanpur Police Station of the investigation of the cases filed both by the petitioner and the wife of the landlord.”

 Most significantly and most forthrightly, what forms the real cornerstone of this notable judgment which definitely must grab maximum eyeballs is that the Bench minces just absolutely no words to put forth in para 12 that, “If, in the city of Patna, the Advocates are assaulted by some goons at about 10:00 P.M., this Court cannot accept the incident as an isolated incident, but prima facie holds that the city is not a safe place for any people to reside.”

It is worth paying singular attention here that the Bench directs in para 13 stating that, “Under such circumstances, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna (respondent no. 5) is directed to form a Special Investigating Team (S.I.T.) with two other Officers not below the rank of Sub Divisional Police Officer, who are in no way connected with Jakkanpur Police Station to investigate into the case. While investigating into the case under the supervision of Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna (respondent no. 5), the Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna shall consider the observation by this Court in the light of the F.I.R. submitted by the petitioner as to whether offence punishable under Sections 148/149/324/326/307 of the I.P.C. are to be added or not.”

In addition, the Bench directs in para 14 that, “At the same time, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna (respondent no.5) is requested to render all possible help to the petitioner, the injured and other Advocate inhabitants of the said house, so that they can at least stay without fear of being implicated in some heinous offences involving offences against women in future and until further order no coercive step shall be taken against the accused persons in connection with Jakkanpur P.S. Case No. 110 of 2024.”

Most remarkably, the Bench postulates in para 15 that, “This Court, at the same time, clarifies that every citizen has a right to lodge complaint against the wrong doer, but it is expected from the Police authority that the Police shall take action against the wrong doer on ascertainment of fact as to whether such incident actually took place or not.”

Furthermore, the Bench directs in para 16 that, “Let, a copy of this order be immediately sent to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna (respondent no. 5) for information and compliance.”

What’s more, the Bench further directs in para 17 that, “Police attached to Jakkanpur Police Station shall refrain from Investigating into the cases any further and there shall not be any recording in the case diary from 2:15 P.M. of today i.e. on 5th March, 2024. If, any such recording takes place in the case diary that shall be considered as nonest.”

Still more, the Bench also directs in para 18 that, “The Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna (respondent no.-5) is also requested to preserve the C.C.T.V. footage of the locality and Jakkanpur Police Station.”

Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 19 that, “The petitioner is at liberty to act on the server copy of the order.”

All told, we thus see quite distinctly that the Patna High Court has minced absolutely just no words to unambiguously hold while referring to Patna that the city is not safe for anyone if the lawyers can be assaulted. It was also made clear by the Court that the role of the police has also come under a cloud for showing biased approach in the way it handled the case which is quite explicit as we can see for ourselves. This alone explains why the Patna High Court proceeded to order an SIT investigation into the matter to get to the bottom of it as mentioned above! No denying!

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April 2024