Narayan Rane joins 'Club of 3' Union ministers to be arrested since 2001

Narayan Rane joins ‘Club of 3’ Union ministers to be arrested since 2001

The central minister in the Modi government, who was granted bail over his ‘slap Uddhav Thackeray’ comments, joins DMK’s Murasoli Maran and T R Baalu as the only central ministers to be arrested by police

The state of Maharashtra witnessed high drama on 24 August when Union Minister Narayan Rane was arrested and granted bail in Maharashtra over his “slap Uddhav Thackeray” comment.

With his arrest, Rane, who holds the micro, small and medium enterprises portfolio in the Modi Cabinet, joins Murasoli Maran and TR Baalu to be the only Central ministers to be arrested in the past two decades.

Rane’s arrest

Union Minister Narayan Rane was arrested on Tuesday by the state police in the coastal district of Ratnagiri where he is travelling as part of the Jan Ashirwad Yatra. The Union minister was arrested over his remarks about slapping Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for what he called Thackeray’s “ignorance of the year India won Independence”.

Rane had claimed Thackeray forgot the year of Independence during his 15 August address and had to check with his aides mid-speech.

“It is shameful that the chief minister does not know the year of independence. He leaned back to ask about the count of years of independence during his speech. Had I been there, I would have given him a tight slap,” Rane said in the public meeting at Raigad.

The 69-year-old was later produced in a court in Mahad in Raigad in the night where he was granted bail on the Rs 15,000 surety with four conditions — he will have to appear twice before Mahad police and he will have to ensure that the act will not be repeated. The Union minister will have to cooperate with the police for the collection of voice samples. The Union minister will have to ensure that the evidence is not tampered with.

The events also led to tense moments in the state with Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party workers agitating against one another.

Initially, Sena workers in Pune hit the streets, putting up posters against the minister and slapping photos of him with shoes. They also vandalised an office in Amravati.

In Mumbai itself, Sena workers demonstrated outside Rane’s bungalow in Juhu, leading to clashes with BJP members.

Sena’s Ratanagiri-Sindhudurg MP Vinayak Raut even wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding Rane’s expulsion from the Cabinet. “Rane has belittled the constitutional framework by his statement. The Jan Ashirwad Yatra conceptualised by the PM was to seek the blessings of the people, instead of it, Rane has been issuing statements for the cheap publicity,” Raut was quoted as saying.

Can a Central minister be arrested? What’s the procedure?

Rane’s arrest has also triggered a debate on whether the state of Maharashtra carried out due protocol to arrest him. According to BJP Maharashtra president Chandrakant Patil, the minister’s arrest was “against protocol” and questioned how it could issue an arrest warrant against a Union Minister suo motu.

So, what does the rules say and what’s the process to be followed?

If Parliament is not in session, a cabinet minister can be arrested by a law enforcement agency in case of a criminal case registered against him.

As per Section 22 A of the Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business of the Rajya Sabha, the Police, Judge or Magistrate would, however, have to intimate the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha about the reason for the arrest, the place of detention or imprisonment in an appropriate form.

As per Section 135 of the Code of Civil Procedure, a member of Parliament has freedom from arrest during the continuance of the House and 40 days before its commencement and 40 days after its conclusion in civil cases. However, the privilege doesn’t extend to criminal cases.

In Rane’s case, he has been charged under Indian Penal Code sections 189 (threat of injury to public servant), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of public peace), 505 (statements conducive to public mischief), 500 (defamation), 505(2) (circulation of defamatory material), 153-b (1)(c) (commits any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities) of the IPC.

Infamous league of 3

Narayan Rane’s arrest, however, is not the first time that a serving Union minister has been arrested. Rane, in fact, is the third Union minister in India to court arrest.

The first two were the late Murasoli Maran and T R Baalu.

Murasoli Maran (now deceased) and T R Baalu were arrested by the Chennai Police in June 2001 along with DMK’s M Karunanidhi in a late-night raid in connection with a Rs 12 crore flyover scam

In a highly publicised event, the duo was picked up at midnight by Chennai Police along with former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi in connection with a Rs 12 crore ‘flyover scam’ in June 2001.

The arrests came on the complaint filed by then Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner JCT Acharyalu on June 29, 2001.

In visuals, aired on Sun TV, which shocked one and all, the police was seen manhandling Karunanidhi (now deceased) along with then Union Minister for Industries Murasoli Maran (he passed away in 2003) and TR Balu, who was the Union Minister for Environment and Forests at the time.

Maran, who was Karunanidhi’s nephew, had sustained injuries in the scuffle with the police during his arrest and was admitted to a hospital. Baalu had also sustained minor injuries.

They were both released on bail the next day after then Union Defence Minister George Fernandes had visited Chennai.

The arrest of the two Union ministers had caused widespread condemnation.

“In spite of identifying me as the Union minister, they did not care to produce the warrant of arrest and moreover they ill-treated and assaulted me”, Baalu had said in a statement, released to the press in Chennai at the time.

Notably, the BJP had also expressed shock over the manner in which the DMK leader and former Tamil Nadu chief Minister M Karunanidhi was arrested by the police at his residence.

Inputs from Agencies

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