Mumbai, Jan 31 (IANS) A Maharashtra court Thursday dropped all charges against two women who wrote comments on Facebook questioning the shutdown in the city after Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray's death Nov 17 last year, a lawyer said.
Judicial magistrate V.S. Yadav based in Palghar in Thane district offered relief to Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan, the accused's lawyer Sudhir Gupta told IANS.
"The judicial magistrate scrapped all charges accepting the closure report filed by the police in December, 2012," Gupta said.
"The magistrate accepted the police report which said that girls did not intend to offend and they only exercised their right to freedom of expression," he added.
On Nov 18, police arrested Shaheen, who posted a comment on her Facebook account questioning the shutdown after Thackeray's death. Her friend Renu, who had 'liked' the Facebook comment, was also arrested.
The arrests triggered a nationwide outrage, following which Superintendent of Police (Thane Rural) Ravindra Sengaonkar and Palghar police chief Senior Inspector Shrikant Pingle were suspended and a departmental probe ordered against them.
Additional Superintendent of Police (Thane Rural) Sangram Nishandar was warned to be alert while dealing with such cases. Nishandar is alleged to have played a major role in siding with the Shiv Sena and ensuring the arrests of the two women.
The Bombay High Court also transferred the magistrate who approved the police action and released the women on a bail of Rs.15,000 each.