The Bombay high court on Thursday issued a notice to Himmatrao Deshbhratar, commissioner of police, Solapur, seeking explanation, why action should not be taken against him for harassing a local journalist purportedly to take vengeance.
Justice BR Gavai also issued notices to Shirish Tandalekar, assistance commissioner of police, traffic and Vikas R Ramugade, in-charge of Vijapur Naka police station at Solapur questioning them about abuse of power. Deshbhratar will have to reply to the notice by July 19, when the petition filed by Narute will come up for further hearing.
Justice Gavai pointed out that an FIR was registered under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, under which only public servants can be booked, against a private person (journalist Rajkumar Narute and two employees of the newspaper he represented). The CP had handed over the probe to an ACP attached to traffic branch.
The FIR was lodged at Vijapur Naka police station on the basis of a complaint lodged by inspector Ramugade alleging the journalist had tried to bribe him on behalf of his editor, who in turn wanted to grab a plot of land.
Narute's counsel VV Purwant said that only the Anti Corruption Bureau can accept complaints of corruption under the Act and investigate the same.
Justice Gavai found that the local police had gone way beyond the call of their duty in arresting the journalist and obtaining his 48 hours police custody remand. Narute was arrested on May 23 and released on bail two days later.
The court noted, "The case was a glaring example wherein the police machinery has attempted to take vengeance against the petitioner merely because he has published certain articles against some police officers working in traffic department of Solapur Police."
The court took stern note of the CP's involvement. "It appears the commissioner of police has shown undue interest in the matter and has acted in contravention of practice of transferring the investigation to the Anti Corruption Bureau."