Mumbai: Union minister Narayan Rane, who was arrested on Tuesday after sparking off a row over his remarks about slapping Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, has secured bail in the case.
The bail was granted by magistrate Shaikhbabaso Patil of Mahad court in Raigad district, some 160 km from Mumbai.
Rane's lawyers maintained that the police had failed to follow due process of law before arresting Rane, a BJP leader.
A notice has to be issued under section 41A of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) before arresting someone in cases where custodial interrogation is not required.
The 'Slap Thackeray' remark
Rane had sparked off a row over his remarks about slapping Chief Minister Thackeray for what he claimed as the latter's ignorance of the year of India's independence.
"It is shameful that the chief minister does not know the year of independence. He leaned back to enquire about the count of years of independence during his speech. Had I been there, I would have given (him) a tight slap, Rane said during his Jan Ashirwad Yatra in Raigad district on Monday.
The BJP leader and former Shiv Sena chief minister claimed Thackeray forgot the year of independence during his August 15 address to the people of the state. Thackeray had to check the year of independence with his aides midway during the speech that day, Rane said.
Cases were registered against the BJP leader at Mahad in the coastal Raigad district as well as at Nashik and Pune.
He was taken into custody at Galavali in Ratnagiri district during his `Jan Ashirwad Yatra', and first taken to Sangameshwar police station.
A team of Nashik police too had set out to take his custody, but Rane was handed over to Raigad police around 2.45 pm in connection with the FIR registered at Mahad.
Rane, who joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet in July as Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, is the first central minister to be arrested in 20 years.
Clashes between Shiv Sena and BJP
Rane's arrest had resulted in a slew of clashes between BJP workers and Shiv Sena's youth wing near his residence in Mumbai.
Stones were pelted from both sides, following which police used cane-charge to disperse the agitators, an official said.
Shiv Sena workers sat on the Juhu Tara Road in Santacruz (West) near Rane's residence, and activists from both sides shouted slogans against each other, the official said.
Following the incident, the road was blocked from two sides, disrupting traffic in the area.
The road was opened for traffic later in the day.
The additional police force was deployed in the area, the official said.
The clash took place during a protest organised by activists of the Yuva Sena (the Shiv Sena's youth wing) against Union minister Rane, he added.
BJP workers had gathered outside Rane's residence in the morning in support of their party leader, while Shiv Sena activists, including women, carrying placards and shouting slogans against Rane, assembled outside the office of the Yuva Sena, located nearby in Juhu.
Rane's early efforts to seek protection
Earlier, Rane had approached the Bombay High Court challenging the FIRs registered against him in parts of Maharashtra over his remarks against state Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, and sought protection from arrest.
The BJP leader also sought an interim order granting him protection from arrest or any coercive action.
The petition was mentioned before a division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar, seeking an urgent hearing on Tuesday itself.
The bench, however, refused to hear it and said mentioning (of the petition) was not allowed and asked the lawyer to follow the procedure.
"File an application before the Registry department seeking urgent hearing and then we will consider," the court said.
"Everyone has to go through the process. Don't make us do the job of the Registry," the HC said.
The petition has challenged three FIRs lodged against Rane in Pune, Nashik and Mahad in Raigad.
Earlier in the day, Rane approached a sessions court n Ratnagiri, seeking pre-arrest bail.
The sessions court, however, refused to grant any relief, noting that the case was registered in Nashik and hence, it did not have the jurisdiction to hear the application.
(With inputs from PTI)