In a show of gross negligence and arrogance on the part of the Pune Police and Airtel, a software engineer in Bangalore has been kept in custody for 50 days in the Yerawada jail.

According to the report, the software engineer was arrested in Bangalore from his residence under the allegation that he was responsible for the posting of some information defamatory to Shivaji on a social networking site and was being arrested under the provisions of ITA 2000. He was released after 50 days on an application of a BJP activist with the information that Airtel had given a wrong lead related to the IP address query.

 In the whole tragedy, there was also perhaps a role for a magistrate who refused to grant bail because he failed to assess the offence appropriately.

No doubt that this statement of the Police nails Airtel to a charge of gross negligence and the Police should immediately proceed against Airtel for giving false information and misleading an investigation.

Secondly, the affected person should be able to claim substantial compensation from Airtel for the harm caused to him which will leave a long term psychological impact on the victim and his families impossible to be fully compensated financially.

Lastly it is not possible to understand how a “Defamation” charge was considered an offence under ITA 2000 and considered cognizable. If the charge was under ITA 2000 then there was no power to the Police to arrest the person from the private place.

It is clear that the Police have also erred in a manner that Human Rights Commission should take suitable action in this regard. It is strange that the same police force which hugs and kisses a terrorist sympathizer and a convict like Sanjay Dutt could treat a professional in the manner in which they have done.

Even if the person was guilty, there was no need for an immediate arrest more so in the  midnight  in a neighboring state in gross violation of accepted procedures and principles.

It is necessary for the Supreme Court to take suo-moto cognizance of the lapses on the part of the Police and Airtel and provide a suitable relief to the affected individual.

This sort of bungling affects genuine investigations and also discredits ITA 2000 which is already under attack by vested interests. The supporters of the ITA 2000 amendments now have a huge stick to beat the act.

 But the incident only shows how untrained and un informed Police may misuse law rather than any weakness of the law itself.

Naavi

www.naavi.org

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