After encounter specialists Pradeep Sharma and Arun Borude, inspector Devidas Wadhmare from the 1983 batch of the Maharashtra Police Service was recently in the eye of storm.
Incidentally, most well-known encounter specialists of the Mumbai police belonged to the ’83 batch. But, call it their bad luck as most of them are embroiled in one controversy or the other.
The special Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) court convicted Wadhmare earlier last week for illegally confining a person for two days.
Interestingly, the order was delivered at a time when the anticipatory bail plea of his colleague, inspector Borude, accused of raping a minor, was being heard in an adjacent courtroom.
The ACB court subsequently released Wadhmare, presently posted in Thane (rural), for his good conduct under the Probation of Offenders Act, where a convict’s sentence is suspended while acquitting him for charges of alleged corruption against him.
According to the ACB's submission before the court, Wadhmare and four constables, then attached to the Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC), had arrested the complainant and his brother from Masjid Bunder on January 21, 1998. They were alleged in possession of certain contraband prohibited under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS). The ANC also sealed their premises.
Wadhmare allegedly told them that the deputy commissioner of police (ANC) had given them (police) an assent to register a case under the NDPS Act.
The ACB told the court that Wadhmare allegedly demanded Rs 30 to release the duo from his custody. Later, the amount was negotiated and brought down to Rs 10 lakh.
The prosecution submitted that on January 22, the complainant’s brother was released from ANC's custody after he paid Wadhmare Rs 85, 000. The complainant was released on January 23 after payment of Rs 1 lakh.
The complainant registered a case with the ACB on February 6 and a trap was laid. However, the ACB failed to nab Wadhmare as he refused to accept the money.
Another trap was laid on February 9, but the ACB sleuths failed to catch Wadhmare red-handed. He was subsequently arrested on the charges of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA).
During trial, the defence argued that Wadhmare had not taken any money from the complainant and hence cannot be prosecuted under POCA.
The court acquitted Wadhmare of corruption charges, but convicted him for illegally detaining the complainant and his brother.
However, the court also considered the defence’s argument that the officer was acquitted of a major charge and was regular for the court hearings and had good conduct.