By LE Desk

Mumbai, April 23: A sessions court here has rejected bail to a 20-year old man who was arrested for defying section 144 to play cricket on the streets earlier this month without wearing a mask.

The JJ Marg police had named seven people, including a minor boy, in its complaint on April 4 alleging that they were playing cricket defying the orders and when confronted, one of them twisted the hand of a policeman resulting into a fracture, The Indian Express reported.

“Considering the situation of Covid-19 in the state, particularly in Mumbai, (where) it is spreading like mayhem, the police authority has imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Mumbai city to control the situation. In such a pandemic situation, the applicant along with other boys was allegedly playing cricket, that too without wearing a mask, prima facie contravening the provisions of Disaster Management Act. It is itself sufficient to hold that the applicant and other boys have formed an unlawful assembly with a common objection to take law in hand and contravene the guidelines issued by the state authority,” the court said in its order on Wednesday.

On April 4, the police personnel on patrolling duty found some young men playing cricket on a road in South Mumbai’s JJ Marg. On seeing the police personnel approaching, the men ran away leaving their phones, which were kept on a table, behind. When they came back to retrieve their devices, the cops told them they would face action for not wearing masks. At this, one of the men twisted the hand of a constable, resulting in a fracture, according to the police’s submission before the court opposing the bail plea. After allegedly attacking the police, the players escaped and two of them – the 20-year-old and a juvenile teenager — were later apprehended under various sections of the IPC, including 143 (punishment for being a member of an unlawful assembly). The other men, including the one who injured the constable, were yet to be identified.

The 20-year-old arrested by the police claimed he was being falsely implicated. In his plea, he also claimed that the FIR did not mention anything about the assault on the policeman and hence the stringent section 353 (assault or use of criminal force on a public servant discharging his duty) of the Indian Penal Code could not be invoked in the case. He also said that he could not be kept behind bars only because the others were still absconding and he was cooperating with the probe.

“Though the applicant is 20 years old, however, he must have to know the situation of pandemic and to follow the guidelines issued by the local authority and police…the applicant along with other boys has not respected the guidelines issued in the midst of a pandemic to control the spread of Covid-19 and they have taken law in (their) hand. Therefore, even if the applicant/accused would be released on stringent conditions, it will be a serious menace to the general public at large,” the court said.

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