26/11: Info panel tears into Maria: Is he trying to hide something?

On a plea by slain officer Kamte’s wife, state CIC flags ‘misleading’ info on call logs, wants judicial probe.

Written by ZEESHAN SHAIKH | Mumbai | Updated: July 16, 2014 8:31 am
Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria.

Coming down heavily on Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria, the state Chief Information Commissioner has raised doubts about whether he was trying to hide some information on the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks by withholding and providing misleading information about the call logs of wireless conversations between the police control room and slain IPS officer Ashok Kamte’s van on the day he died.

In a recent order, state’s Chief Information Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad has also asked the state government to institute a commission of inquiry into the entire incident, to look into why misleading information was provided in an incident of such prominence as the 26/11 terror attacks.

Vinita Kamte, the wife of Ashok Kamte, had filed an RTI application in 2009 seeking log records of the south Mumbai police channel. The information was allegedly denied. Kamte then appealed and subsequently information was provided, but there were serious discrepancies in the information given to her on November 2009 and February 2010.

“Prima facie, misleading information has been given in this case. There has been a malafide denial of information, information has been destroyed and obstacles have been created in presenting the information. The Commission agrees with all these issues brought forth by the complainant,” Gaikwad said in his judgment dated July 9.

The Commission, as per Section 11 (8) of the RTI Act, has now ordered the state government to institute a judicial inquiry. “As per a letter dated April 2009, Rakesh Maria, the then joint police commissioner (Crime), had denied information (to Vinita Kamte) under Section 8 (1) (G) of the RTI Act 2005. It is very irresponsible and gives reason for suspicion on whether he was trying to hide something. In view of the nature of the incident and its seriousness, if an impartial inquiry is not done, the public or Vinita Kamte will never get to know the truth,” Gaikwad said.

In her letter to the Commission, Kamte had alleged that her late husband had requested for help from Maria, who was heading the police control room at the time. However, Maria allegedly did not send help. Kamte also alleged that to cover this up, Maria had instructed the public information officer to not provide her information.

Later, Kamte also claimed she was given two completely different call log records from the south control room. The state had, meanwhile, submitted a different call record in the charge-sheet it filed in the case.

At the Commission, Kamte’s lawyers pointed out that there was a difference of over six minutes in these different logs. They also alleged manipulations in the call records and the hard disk of the main voice logger was not retained. The Commission had subsequently asked additional chief secretary (home) Amitabh Rajan to conduct an inquiry.

Following the probe, Rajan sent a report stating that the discrepancies existed only in the call logs given to Kamte, but not in the “original contents” of the call records. Kamte had subsequently questioned Rajan’s report, to which the SIC had asked him to clarify. In its scathing three-page order, the Commission has criticised both Maria and Rajan, saying they also refrained from attending the hearings, which showed how serious they were about the entire incident.

The Commission has also trashed the report submitted by Rajan. “He did not conduct the inquiry but relied on the findings of officers who were themselves under the scanner to submit the report to the Commission. This is a very serious matter and he is guilty of contempt of the Commission’s order. Such behaviour does not befit such a senior bureaucrat,” Gaikwad said in his order.

Maria and Rajan were not available for comment.

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  1. S
    Sid Harth
    Jul 16, 2014 at 10:33 pm
    Such a major scandal is clearly ociated with Hemant Karkare's death. Indian media always plays this side of the scandal down. BJP, at that time and even now, jumped upon an harmless remark, 'Hindu Terrorism,' whereas, similar term, 'Muslim terrorism,' is allowed and promoted by Sangh Parivar, on every single discussion.Something is seriously wrong with Indian polity. If you ask me, It lacks moral and ethical foundation....and I am Sid Harth
    1. G
      Jul 16, 2014 at 7:01 am
      Maria himself admitted after his promotion that a policeman should be the only 'dada' in the area. that shows you the man's mindset as a policeman, and how he knows the force works.an impartial investigation cannot be conducted as long as he and his acolytes are cops.they've perfected the art of wiping evidence of their crimes, encounter-loving mumbai cops in particular.
      1. Ravi Raj
        Jul 16, 2014 at 7:13 am
        never seen any big leadership qualities in this chap. All the credentials he had was and I must emphasize that must have swung his favor when he appeared for his interview to civils exam to till date. All he had is an illustrious father and as is the state of things in our country everything hereditary is considered sacred in the country and the progeny is given the same status as their parents!!
        1. V
          V B
          Jul 16, 2014 at 3:07 pm
          Such strictures should be cause enough for an honest government to re-examine the career record of the Officer to see how he could mange to reach the top of the police force. Those he pushed him up at various stages should also come for such an examination. Does he understand he is accountable to the people and the honest and brave in his force? Such officers have become the bane of the administration.