The Maharashtra government has deputed Konkan Divisional Commissioner Jagdish Patil to inquire into the role of DIG (Prisons) Swati Sathe who was accused of openly seeking help for women jail officials allegedly involved in the murder of inmate Manjula Shetye. The state government had earlier promised that it would hold an independent inquiry under the cyber laws against Sathe. It formally announced the name of Patil Wednesday.
Patil’s ambit of inquiry is limited to finding out whether Sathe had erred in sending the message on WhatsApp and he has been asked to submit his report within a month. Last week, the Minister of State for Home, Ranjit Patil, in the Legislative Council announced the suspension of Byculla Jail Superintendent, Chandramani Indulkar, and Tanaji Gharbudwe, who was holding charge as the Acting Superintendent, in the death case.
The state government has also said it will, in the next seven days, take a decision on whether DIG (Prisons) Sathe can be booked under Section 201 of the Indian Penal Code for causing disappearance of evidence. Members had demanded that three top officials, Jail Superintendent Chandramani Indulkar, Acting Jail Superintendent Tanaji Gharbudwe and DIG (Prisons) Swati Sathe, be suspended and booked in the case.
Legislators had also sought the suspension of Sathe claiming that she, as the investigating officer in the case, had connived to shield the accused. Sathe is reported to have sent out messages to fellow jail officials on WhatsApp seeking financial support for the six prison staff members who had been arrested in the case. The legislators demanded that Sathe be booked for the crime, along with the other accused.
Minister Patil, however, shot down the demand. “The others are booked under charges of murder. It is not possible to book Madam Swati Sathe for the same crime. We will, however, seek legal opinion on whether she can be booked under Section 201 (destroying evidence) as per the members’ demands,” Patil said.
He had also stated that a state secretary-level official will conduct an inquiry into Sathe’s role in the matter.