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Man tells court: I am not who you are looking for

By Rana Ajit, IANS,

New Delhi : Who is that man? This is the question a perplexed Supreme Court bench asked when an octogenarian Mumbai resident, arrested on the court’s orders, said he was not the one it was looking for.

Not sure about the identity of the person, a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justice Aftab Alam had to release him on bail, but with the stipulation that he keep in touch with the nearest police station in Mumbai.

The court had ordered the arrest of Suleman Ismail, 81, for flouting its order. But the person whom Mumbai Police arrested and produced before the bench Friday said his name was Suleman Ibrahim Mooman.

Surprised, the bench made a bid to ascertain his identity by asking if he ever ran a lathe machine tool – a business that the alleged contemner ran earlier.

The case began in 2007 when Suleman Ismail’s landlord in Mumbai filed a civil suit and the apex court ordered Ismail to vacate his rented house. But Ismail, instead of vacating the house, allegedly sublet it to his cousin and went missing.

The apex court issued an arrest warrant for him for flouting its order. Acting on the court’s order, Mumbai Police arrested the octogenarian, without making any foolproof check of his identity, and produced him before the court.

But with his counsel asserting that he was wrongly arrested, the court asked the police to ascertain his identity, and arrest the right man if he was not the actual person.