DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand High Court on Monday granted protection from arrest to Mahim Verma, secretary of the Cricket Association of Uttarakhand (CAU) after Uttarakhand police booked seven people associated with CAU on charges of assault, extortion and criminal intimidation of a young cricketer named Arya Sethi.
An FIR was registered on June 20, 2022, under sections 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 384 (Punishment for extortion), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) and 120b (Punishment of criminal conspiracy) by Arya’s father Birendra Sethi. Sethi alleged that his son Arya, who was a member of the Uttarakhand Cricket team in the Vijay Hazare trophy, was harassed by certain members of the association on December 11, 2021.
Verma, who was also named in the FIR, filed the petition in the HC requesting the quashing of the FIR.
Ayush Negi, counsel for Verma, told The New Indian, “Honorable court told the state government to follow the guidelines laid in the Arnesh Kumar case which puts checks on the arrest of a person in certain cases.” The court has also asked the state government and the complainant to file replies in the matter within two weeks of time, he stated.
Arnesh Kumar Vs State of Bihar (2014) case is a landmark judgement of the Supreme Court that lays down the guidelines stating that arrests should be an exception in cases where the punishment is less than seven years of imprisonment.
Meanwhile, Sethi in his FIR alleged that during a training session, the head coach of the Uttarakhand Cricket team, Manish Jha had physically assaulted and abused his son.
Arya complained about the incident to Verma. Verma discussed the matter with other members of the association Navin Mishra, Jha and Piyush Raghuvanshi. Following the meeting, these three people called Arya to the room and threatened him to kill by contract killer named Brijesh Singh, alleged Sethi in his FIR.
Sethi also alleged that the secretary (Verma) and other members of the association asked him to pay Rs 10 lakh and further threatened to spoil his son’s career.
The FIR also stated that on December 13, 2021, that secretary again threatened him at the house of late MLA of Dehradun Cantt area Harbansh Kapoor and demanded Rs 10 lakh.
On the other hand, Verma in his petition stated that Sethi’s son Arya was part of the squad representing the Uttarakhand Cricket Team at the Vijay Hazare trophy held last year.
“…it is also relevant to note that it is only the prerogative of the team coach and the team captain that who will be part of the playing 11 in the matches at any relevant point in time and as such the Petitioner being the Secretary of the CAU had no role to play in the selection process or the decision-making process,” said the petition.
Verma, in his petition, also added that Sethi was disgruntled after finding out that his son was not part of the playing XI in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Sethi started making complaints against the CAU and its members including Verma, the head coach and other members.
Verma also added that on January 4, 2022, in the light of the complaints by Sethi, all the parties involved met and resolved all issues between them.
Verma, in his petition, stated that the present criminal proceeding is instituted with an ulterior motive, as a bare reading of the FIR shows no cognizable offence is made out against the petitioner.
The delay of more than six months between the date of the incident, as mentioned in the FIR, and the registration of the FIR shows that there is no element of criminality in the case.