Home Minister P Chidambaram said Anna Hazare and hundreds of his followers have been detained under the “preventive arrest” sections of the Indian Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC).
Chidambaram said Anna and his group were arrested because when asked about today’s program, they said they intended to protest at the JP park.
Late yesterday night, Chidambaram said, the Government had banned any public assembly at the JP park and “some other areas” of Delhi. Since he said he was not ready to cancel the fasting program in view of the imposition of Section 144, he was threatening to break the law.
As such, Chidamabram said, the arrest was made under section 151, which empowered police to make arrests when they are convinced that the person is about to commit a crime.
“This morning police officers met Anna Hazare.. He said he was proceeding to JP park in defiance of orders..,” Chidambaram said.
According to section section 151 of the Cr.PC, “a police officer knowing of a design to commit any cognizable offence may arrest, without orders from a Magistrate and without a warrant, the person so designing, if it appears to such officer that the commission of the offence cannot be otherwise prevented.”
It also says that people arrested shall be released within twenty-four hours from the time of his arrest “unless his further detention is required or authorized under any other provisions of this Code or of any other law for the time being in force.”
Section 107 of Cr.PC, “when an Executive Magistrate receives information that any person is likely to commit a breach of the peace or disturb the public tranquility or to do any wrongful act that may probably occasion a breach of’ the peace or disturb the public tranquility and is of opinion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding, he may require such person to show cause why he should not be ordered to execute a bond [with or without sureties] for keeping the peace for such period, not exceeding one year, as the Magistrate thinks fit.”
Senior minister Kapil Sibal said that Anna Hazare’s protests in JP park would have infringed on other people’s rights. “Others have rights too. To work, to walk on the roads..,” he said.
Sibal also urged the media to play the tapes of Justice Sawant and those who are against Anna Hazare also to ensure fairness. Justice Sawant had found that Anna Hazare’s trust spent Rs 2 lakh rupees on a function on the occasion of his birthday. The money was then reimbursed by a donor.
Asked why a 5,000 limit was imposed on the number of people who could attend the protest while no restrictions are placed on farmers’ rallies that draw 15,000 or more people, Chidambaram said this was not a rally, but a fast.
“In case of a rally, the police demarcates the route.. you can’t compare a rally to a place where a fast is going to be held,” Kapil Sibal said.