A court here has acquitted an RLD candidate in the 2017 Delhi civic polls of the charge of defacing public property by pasting her campaign posters on an electric pole, as the complainant himself was the investigating officer in the case. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Munish Markan absolved the woman, who contested the election from Jaitpur ward on a Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) ticket, of the offence under the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property (DPDP) Act. It was alleged that three posters carrying the woman’s photograph and phone number appealing for votes were found pasted on an electric pole, a government property.
Acquitting the woman of the charge, the court said, “It is well-settled law that the complainant should not be the investigating officer in a case so as to rule out any illwill or bias against the accused.” The court also noted that there was lack of evidence to show that police officials were present on the spot at the time of the commission of the alleged offence. “Therefore, considering the totality of facts and circumstance, in my considered opinion, prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt on numerous fronts, which are lack of evidence regarding the factum of witnesses 1 and 2 (police officials) being present on the spot at the alleged date and time, failure to prove the photographs, non- joining of public witnesses and the complainant himself becoming the investigating officer,” the magistrate said.
According to the complaint lodged by a sub-inspector, three posters of the woman candidate from the RLD were found on an electric pole near NTPC Ground, Jaitpur on April 11 this year as an appeal for votes for the municipal corporations of Delhi (MCD) elections held on April 23. An FIR was registered for the offence under section 3 of the DPDP Act which provides that whoever defaces a public property by writing or marking with ink, chalk, paint or any other material except for the purpose of indicating the name and address of the owner of such property, may face up to one-year jail or fine which may extend to Rs 50,000 or both. The woman had denied the allegations and claimed she was innocent as she did not paste any poster on the pole.