Home minister RR Patil on Monday said complaints registered under the Information Technology Act will now be investigated only by senior police officials, and action in the case will be taken only after seeking legal opinion.
The government’s move is in response to the public outrage over the arrest of the two women from Palghar for their Facebook posts and the charges applied against them.
Patil said the state is likely to announce the action to be taken against the indicted policemen in the case on Tuesday.
The home department is expected to issue a government order soon with guidelines for police action under the IT Act, on the lines of the Prevention of Atrocities Act. Only deputy superintendents of police or assistant commissioners of police are empowered to investigate complaints registered under the Atrocities Act.
“We have taken note of the Palghar incident and any action under the IT Act will be taken only by senior officials after seeking legal opinion,” Patil said, adding that workshops would be organised so that policemen would understand the law and will be better equipped to handle such cases.
However, Patil reiterated that the IT Act needs more clarity and said the state would write to the Centre about the issue. He had previously defended the police saying that interpreting this law was tricky.
Patil, who has been on the back foot over the Palghar arrests with his Cabinet colleagues criticising the police action, denied that the government was going slow in determining the action against the indicted policemen.
He refuted speculation that there was a difference of opinion between him and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on the issue. “The report is with the CM and we have discussed it. There is no difference of opinion. An announcement on the action is likely tomorrow [Tuesday],” he said.
Chavan and Patil put off the announcement as they did not want to upset the police force on the fourth anniversary of the 26/11 attacks. “The announcement, if made today, could have hurt the morale of the force,” a senior Mantralaya official said.