India: WHRD and lawyer Varsha Deshpande faces fabricated chargesEvent
- Initial Date
- Aug 24, 2020
- Event Description
Adv. Varsha Deshpande is a well-known activist in Maharashtra and is based out of Satara district. She has worked for many years against social malpractices such as female foeticide and child marriages. She is also the founder president of the organizationcalled ‘Dalit Mahila Vikas Mandal’ which works with Dalit women for self-employment and has also established Free Legal Aid Center in 1996 with the help of Maharashtra Legal Aid Society.
Ms. Tamanna Mujawar and Ms. Aishwarya Jadhav, both residents of Satara,had money dealings in the past due to which a dispute broke out between them. Ms. Jadhavhad borrowed Rs. 15000 from Ms. Mujawar of which she had returned Rs. 12,500.Since they were unable to resolve the issue,Ms. Jadhav approached the Free Legal Aid Centre on August 24, 2020. However unable to resolve the issueeither, both wereaskedby the WHRD to visit the Satara City police station.
On August 25, 2020, the Satara City Police registered an FIR against Adv. Varsha Deshpandebased on a complaint filed by Ms. Mujawaralleging that the WHRD had physically assaulted her and demanded a ransom.The complaint stated that whenadispute croppedup between her and Ms. Jadhav at the Free Legal Aid Centre, Adv. Deshpande threatened her that she would initiatea legal case against her and also slapped her. Ms. Mujawar also accused Adv. Deshpande of demanding aransom of Rs. 50,000, failing which shewould file a complaint against her.Based on her complaint,the Satara city policestationcharged the WHRD under sections 384 (extortion) and 323 (causing voluntary hurt) of the Indian Penal Code(IPC).In her complaint, Ms. Mujawarsaid that the Ms. Jadhav had asked her to come to Adv. Deshpande’s office at 2.30 p.m. However, Adv. Deshpandehas clearedthat she hadnever called Ms. Mujawar to the office and the latter had come on her own volition. On August 26, 2020, Ms. Jadhav filed a police complaint stating that she had approached Adv. Deshpande as she wanted help on how to get out of her current predicament. However,in her office,Ms. Mujawar started a verbal fight with Adv. Deshpande. She also alleged that Ms. Mujawar was forcing her into a prostitution and blackmailing racket. Ms. Mujawar allegedly demanded that Ms. Jadhav pay her the amount due with interest when she refused to do Ms. Mujawar’s bidding. Based on Ms. Jadhav’s complaint the Satara city policestationhave filed an FIR under sections 452 (House Trespass), 342 (Wrongful Confinement), 323 (Voluntary Hurt), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (Criminal Intimidation), and section 5 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 which pertains toprocuring, inducing or taking an individual for the sake of prostitutionagainst Ms. Mujawar. No one has yet been arrested.We believe that the Ms. Deshpande, a longstandingwoman Human Rights Defenderof repute,has been implicated in a false case by the Satara police since she hasbeen vocal about police inaction on several occasions in the pastregarding sexual harassment of women. Recently,the WHRD had also complained to the state DGP about SDPO Mr. Sameer Sheikh and his handling of cases.Since there seems to have been a recent history with Mr. Sheikh as well as the facts of the above case, we are inclined to believe that the case against Adv. Deshpande is fabricated and false and has been filed with a malicious intent.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Right to protect reputation
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 24 August 2020, Varsha Deshpande, WHRD and lawyer, was victim of judicial harassmernt as police filed charged her on false accusations in Satara, India.