Assistant Police Inspector (API) Shantilal Jadhav, who was dismissed for allegedly trying to shield an accused in a drug case by substituting cocaine with boric powder, may get a chance to give his side of the story.
The Bombay High Court on Saturday ordered Jadhav’s reinstatement saying he was dismissed for alleged misconduct without his version being heard.
The court said his “constitutional rights cannot be dispensed with lightly or arbitrarily”.
A division bench of Justice D.K. Deshmukh and Justice A.R. Joshi, however, has placed Jadhav under deemed suspension and directed the commissioner of police to give him a hearing before taking any decision.
The court said Jadhav will be entitled to receive a subsistence allowance while under suspension. The police commissioner has been directed to pass a fresh order on Jadhav’s service in three months.
In September 2005, then police commissioner A.N. Roy had dismissed Jadhav for misconduct after he was accused of replacing cocaine seized from an accused with boric powder.
Police had arrested former Provogue staffer, Allwyn Sequeria, in January 2005 and recovered vials of cocaine in a parcel he was to send to Chennai. The parcel was addressed to Vishal Magnani.
Provogue owner Salil Chaturvedi was also an accused in the case, but was acquitted later.
In July 2005, the police arrested Jadhav and API Sanjay Shinde for replacing cocaine with boric power and trying to extort money from Magnani. The trial against them is pending.
The commissioner of police dismissed Jadhav without giving him a hearing. Jadhav approached the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT), which upheld his dismissal. He appealed before the high court in 2009 contending that he was dismissed from service without any departmental inquiry.
He added that the order of the commissioner did not explain why “it was not feasible to hold departmental enquiry against him”. The MAT, which went through the commissioner’s file, also did not give reasons for doing away with the inquiry.
The commissioner’s lawyer had argued that the reasons for not holding a departmental inquiry were given and perused by the MAT.
The HC observed that though the misconduct alleged may be grave, it cannot be the sole reason for not holding an inquiry.
“Even an attempt has not been made to give a reason as to what were the difficulties faced in holding the departmental inquiry,” the court said.