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Maharashtra: Malegaon Court orders a convict to offer Namaz 5 times a day and plant trees near a mosque instead of imprisonment in a road rage case

The court said that the convict said he could not offer namaz, and the crime took place near the Sonapura Masjid in Malegaon, he should offer namaz 5 times a day at the mosque for 21 days, and plant 2 trees near it

On 27th February 2023, a court in Malegaon in the Nashik district of Maharashtra ordered a convict of a road accident dispute to offer namaz five times a day and plant trees. It is notable that the crime he committed was punishable by imprisonment, still, the court has ordered him to plant trees and offer namaz instead of putting him behind the bars.

Magistrate Tejwant Singh Sandhu noted in his order that provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act granted powers to a magistrate to release a convict after admonition or appropriate warning to ensure he or she does not repeat the offence. The court said in the order, “According to me, giving appropriate warning means, to give an understanding that the crime had been committed, the accused has been proven guilty and he remembers the same so that he does not repeat the offence again.”

The convict in this case, Rauf Khan, aged 30, was arrested in 2010 for allegedly attacking and injuring a person after a vehicle accident skirmish. While convicting Khan in the case, the court observed that during the entire trial, Khan stated that he did not offer regular namaz. As a result, the court ordered him to perform namaz five times a day for 21 days beginning February 28, plant two trees on the Sonapura Mosque grounds, and care for the plants.

The court in the order said that since the offence was committed near the Sonapura Masjid premises, it would be appropriate for Khan to plant the trees there. The court appointed the Agriculture Officer of Malegaon is appointed as Special Probation Officer to supervise Khan during this period. The officer has been authorised to use police force if it becomes necessary. The court also ordered to send a copy of the judgement to the Iman of Sonapura Masjid in Malegaon to ensure that the order is complied with.

Rauf Khan was charged under Indian Criminal Code Sections 323 (voluntarily causing harm), 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 504 (intentional insult to cause a breach of peace), and 506 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace) (criminal intimidation). He was found guilty by the court under IPC section 323 and was acquitted of other charges.

Section 323 of the IPC carries the punishment of imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine of up to Rs 1000, or both.

It is notable that Malegaon in the Nashik district is a Muslim-majority city. It is more known for the Malegaon bomb blast case. The Malegaon court ordering a criminal to perform religious duties instead of punishment has caused people to raise their eyebrows.

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