All five policemen arrested in the drugs case involving Shashikala ‘Baby’ Patankar were released on bail recently, and legal experts say that in the current circumstances, the possibility of their conviction appears bleak.
In March, the Satara police raided the home of Marine Drive police constable Dharmaraj Kalokhe at Kanheri village and seized 112kg of what was believed to be the party drug mephedrone (MD). A day later, another 12kg of what was believed to be MD was found in a cupboard at Marine Drive police station.
But now, the case seems to have fizzled out, with a report from the state’s Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL) revealing that the seized substance was not MD but monosodium glutamate, commonly known as MSG or ajinomoto.
The police are pinning their hopes on a second test by the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory (CFSL), saying such a test, if conducted, will lead to convictions.
However, YP Singh, a former IPS officer turned lawyer, said, “The policemen can move a discharge application under Section 169 of the Criminal Procedure Code. However, this can be done only after the charge sheet is filed. In the current circumstances, chances that the policemen will be convicted are bleak.”
Another legal expert said that the police cannot file a charge sheet on the basis of a negative forensic report and hence a report from CFSL is essential. “Permission to collect and test fresh samples can be given if there is a suspicion that the samples were tampered with or that the police failed to follow procedure when collecting them. If CFSL conducts a retest and the result is positive, the case will stand,” said noted lawyer Taraq Sayyad.
Dhananjay Kulkarni, deputy commissioner and Mumbai police spokesperson, said, “The policemen are unlikely to be discharged. We will oppose it on the grounds that a second test is yet to be conducted. According to legal procedure, a CFSL test is crucial at this juncture.”
The Satara police, meanwhile, say they are also awaiting the high court’s response. “There are separates case in Satara and Mumbai, but some of the accused are common to both. Both cases will be linked at a later stage. Being an investigating agency, we will oppose their discharge and tell the court that a test by CFSL – which is better equipped than the state’s FSL – is required,” said Deepak Humbre, deputy superintendent of the Satara police.