Seven years after the death of an RTI activist who was not provided security despite his requests, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has ordered the state home department to conduct a probe against several police officers of the Pune (Rural) police. Satish Shetty was murdered on January 13, 2010, at Talegaon Dhabade near Pune two months after he sought police protection.
A division bench headed by the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission Chairperson Justice S R Bannurmath and Member M A Sayeed, in its order last month, also directed the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 15 lakh to Shetty’s family within a month.
According to the commission’s order, Shetty had filed RTI applications in 2009 to expose alleged land grabbing deals between the government and some private companies. Based on his revelations, several cases of corruption were lodged, including a criminal case against Iron Infrastructure Investment Pvt Ltd and JYO Development Corporation in September 2009, said the order.
The commission noted that in November 2009, Shetty approached the SP, Pune (rural), claiming that he had received threats and required police security. “No action was taken” by police, the human rights commission observed.
Two months later, Shetty was murdered while he was out for morning walk. “In the detailed inquiry conducted by Special Inspector General of Police, Kolhapur Range, it is apparent that the various police officials of the rank of SDPO, SP have slept over the application of the deceased,” the commission observed, adding, “there was negligence of concerned officers which resulted in the brutal death of Satish Shetty”.
According to a government resolution issued by the state home department in 2000, police has to immediately start an inquiry if any person approaches them for protection. In this case, the human rights commission observed, police at various levels — superintendent, sub-divisional police officer and the crime branch — delayed the approval process for providing protection.
The commission has now directed the home department to ensure police follows the resolution. “The state and home department to initiate appropriate departmental inquiry against erring officers referred to in the order,” the order said.