The government on Tuesday initiated action against police officials indicted in the Palghar Facebook case – it has suspended two senior police officers – but Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Srinivasan, who were arrested for their posts on Facebook criticising the city shutdown following Bal Thackeray’s demise, will have to wait a while before the charges against them are dropped.
This despite the fact that the police inquiry report, submitted by Sukhvinder Singh, inspector general (Konkan region), clearly states that wrong sections were applied in the case and recommends that the charges be dropped. “We cannot directly remove charges that have been framed; it is the prerogative of the police department. There is a separate inquiry on this, after which a decision will be taken on dropping the charges. But the report clearly says that the charges framed were inappropriate,” home minister RR Patil said.
Although the government intends to drop the charges, the procedure is largely legal and has to be done as per the police procedure, home ministry officials said.
“The police have to move a report to the magistrate’s court that will state that the charges framed were not right. The government cannot do it directly,” a senior official said, requesting anonymity.
Sources in the director general of police’s office told HT on Tuesday that as dropping the charges and closing the case is the sole prerogative of the investigating officer, due procedure will be followed in this case for dropping the charges against the two women. “The inspector general’s report has termed the application of the sections as unjustified. As such, there remains little for the investigating officer to do but proceed with a summary report before the court to drop the charges,” a source said.
Efforts are on to file a closure report at the earliest, the official said. Officials, however, refused to commit to how long it would take for the filing of the summary report. “We have to follow procedure,” the source said.
There will now be a departmental inquiry against superintendent of police (Thane rural) Ravindra Sengaonkar, senior police inspector Shreekant Pingle of Palghar police station and Sangram Nishandar, additional SP (Thane rural). If found guilty, they face action that ranges from getting no increment to losing their jobs, depending on the report.