Alleged drug peddler Shashikala “Baby” Patankar was discharged by a special NDPS court in Satara on Monday, more than two years after being booked as an accused in a case where 112 kg of mephedrone was seized from the home of dismissed Mumbai Police Constable Dharmaraj Kalokhe. Forensic tests by two laboratories had concluded that the contraband seized by the Satara police from Kalokhe’s home in Kanheri village on March 9, 2015, was food additive sodium glutamate, popularly known as ajinomoto.
In the discharge application filed by Patankar in 2015 before the Satara court through advocates Ayaz Khan and Gorakh Liman, she had submitted that there was no material to frame charges against her since the chemical analyser report of two forensic science laboratories — Mumbai and Hyderabad — had tested negative for mephedrone, the drug the police claimed she was dealing in.
Patankar also submitted that Kalokhe alleged that she had supplied the drugs to him in July 2014, while mephedrone was included as a psychotropic substance under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act only in February 2015. She had claimed in her application that no drugs were found in her possession.
Patankar argued that apart from the statement of her co-accused Kolakhe, which is inadmissible before law, there was no evidence against her in the case. The special public prosecutor had submitted that Patankar was named as an accused in other criminal cases as well, but the court stated that in the current case there was no material to frame charges against her.
Advocate Liman said that the court had accepted the grounds put forth by Patankar, including the forensic reports, while granting her discharge. The prosecution filed its reply on her discharge in May 2016 and arguments concluded on it on August 5. Patankar was arrested in the Satara case on May 9, 2015. The Satara police claimed that two of its officers got a tip-off that Kalokhe, a policeman in Mumbai, had kept a stock of mephedrone in his home in Khandala, Satara.
The police claimed that while nothing incriminating was found in his home, he allegedly directed them to another person’s home from where they seized gunny bags containing 112 grams of mephedrone. They claimed that it was during his interrogation that he named Patankar as a co-accused.
The forensic reports, however, were negative for the drug. She was granted bail by the Bombay High Court in September 2015. A plea by the police in the Mumbai case for a retest of the chemical analyser report is pending before the HC.
The Satara police took Patankar’s custody after the Mumbai police had interrogated her about her role in the seizure of 12 kilograms of mephedrone from Kalokhe’s cupboard at the Marine Drive police station. It filed a chargesheet in September 2015. Apart from the case of the 12 kg of mephedrone, which is being investigated by the Mumbai police crime branch, Patankar is facing trial in two cases of selling mephedrone in Mumbai and Vasai in 2014 and 2015.
Patankar said that she was happy at being discharged from the case in which she has been out on bail since 2015. “The police did not have sufficient evidence against me in their case, yet they troubled me. I hope to be discharged in the other cases as well now,” said Patankar, when contacted. Sandip Patil, Superintendent of Police, Satara said that he could not comment as he hadn’t received details of the court’s order.