Ankita Shah, 27, represented herself in the case after a 2013 argument with a senior IAS officer got her detained at Marine Drive police station for 6 hrs.
Two years after being allegedly wrongfully detained due to the high-handed behaviour of a senior IAS officer, a 27-year-old law student has finally managed to get all the charges against her thrown out.
The then 24-year-old Ankita Shah had allegedly been illegally detained for six hours at the Marine Drive police station and then booked for criminal trespassing and intimidation and assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty following an argument with a senior IAS officer. But she managed to walked out of the mess with her head held high, after the Esplanade court acquitted her of all charges in the case in which she represented herself. On February 9, the additional chief metropolitan magistrate passed an order stating that Shah had been acquitted as per section 255 (1) of the CRPC of an offence punishable under the three sections.
“I am still a student and I have already won my first case!” said Shah, who is pursuing her third year of LLB at the Central India College of Law, Nagpur. “The police’s role is not just to catch criminals, but also to protect the innocents who get trapped in false cases,” she added.
In June 2013, Mirror had reported about Shah’s alleged illegal detention at the Marine Drive police station after an argument, which took place when Shah was stopped from taking part in a hearing at the Urban Development Department (UDD) over the cancellation of a permit of a cold storage unit in Nagpur that collapsed in January 2012, killing 18. Following the accident, local development authority Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) cancelled all permissions to the cold storage unit. The unit’s owner appealed against the NIT order with the UDD. The daughter of a grain trader, who incurred huge losses in the January 2012 collapse, Shah had informed the UDD that she would like to appear as an intervener during the hearing on behalf of her father and 18 victims. Shah had also filed a number of Right to Information (RTI) applications in her quest to ensure justice for all the victims.
The then Principal Secretary (UDD) Shreekant Singh, who is now the Principal Secretary (Housing), was holding a hearing as a quasi-judicial authority on June 15, 2013 and Shah was detained after she had disrupted the proceedings, the Marine Drive police had claimed.
However, Shah had a different story to tell.
She alleged that after the argument, she was taken to Marine Drive police station and detained there for six hours, with two lady constables holding her hands at all times. “When the principal secretary saw me at the hearing, he asked me why I was there. I said that I had sent in a letter to his office the day before stating that I was appearing in the hearing as an intervener, which had been stamped and signed by his office. However, he ordered me to leave the room. I told him I would go as long as he would give me a written statement that I cannot stay. He refused, after which we had an argument and then I was dragged out of the office,” she alleged.
However, Singh, when asked to comment on the incident, said, “If the incident happened so long ago how do you expect me to recollect it?”
DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni, PRO, Mumbai Police, said, “We will have to look at the order and only then take a call on whether to pursue the matter.”
Shah acted as her own lawyer in the case. “I had first thought of hiring a lawyer to defend myself. But he told me that I must start putting money into his account so he can get more dates. But I have not done anything wrong. Only criminals try to delay their case. Hence, I decided to fight myself,” she said.
The budding lawyer now plans to join a law firm and fight more such cases. She has already filed three PILs in Nagpur and recently won a case at the State Information Commission as well.