The sessions court, while convicting the 19 accused in the hooch tragedy, came down heavily on the state government for not making police officials and state excise officers accused in the case.
After the incident, the government had suspended 57 officials for their alleged inaction and negligence in taking preventive action, which could have averted the tragedy. However, most of them have been reinstated.
The court on Thursday observed that “deliberate inaction or negligence in any form, including monetary benefits or otherwise, for the said commission of the crime of the accused certainly amounts to abetment to the crime”.
The court said: “Such officers are equally liable for the commission of crime committed by the accused. Such officers ought to have been prosecuted/implicated as co-accused in this case in order to eradicate the deep-rooted corrupt practices… but that was not done.”
During the final arguments of the case, defence advocates Abdul Wahab and MR Dhanawade had told the court that the illicit country liquor was supplied, transported and distributed from Hedutane village in Thane.
“It must have been done with the blessings, supervision and control of police officers and state excise officers in the form of monetary benefits. So they ought to have been implicated as co -accused being abettors for the said crime,” they had said.
Vaibhav Bagade, special public prosecutor, argued that though 57 officials were suspended, it was the call choice f the investigating agency to decide whom it wanted to implicate as accused.
“It’s not about the choice of the investigating agency… but also about the choice of statute that who should be the accused. “The investigating agency and the government are still at liberty to initiate appropriate prosecution against such erring officers in accordance with law because merely suspending them will not serve in the interest of the society.”