The Bombay High Court recently transferred the investigation of 10 FIRs filed against Shiv Sena corporator Dhananjay Gawade from Nallasopara from an SIT working under the supervision of the SP, Palghar, to the state CID.
Gawade had sought quashing of the FIRs registered against him at Virar, Tulinj and Kasarvadavali police stations, accusing him of extortion.
A division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati H Dangre observed, “…looking at the gravity and seriousness of the allegations levelled against the petitioner and on taking into consideration the contentions raised in the petition against the entire police machinery, including the highest officer, i.e. Superintendent of Police, we are of the opinion that the FIRs against the petitioner should be investigated by an independent and impartial authority since serious allegations are levelled against the Superintendent of Police himself.”
In 2015, Gawade, an RTI activist, was elected corporator of the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation. He told the court that between March 31 and April 12, 2018, 10 FIRs came to be registered against him, levelling extortion charges against him. Gawade’s lawyer M S Mohite told the court he had been “falsely, maliciously and insidiously arraigned as accused in the FIRs and that he is a victim of a meticulously orchestrated conspiracy by police and municipal officials of the Virar-Vasai Municipal Corporation and builder lobby-mafia alike”.
Gawade told the court that being an activist and a whistle-blower, he had sought information against many builders operating in the area, resulting in the prosecution of such builders. This had irked the builder lobby and the FIRs were nothing but a “counterblast against his actions”, he alleged. Gawade alleged the FIRs were lodged after the SP, Palghar, held a press conference inviting people to lodge complaints against him and this “opened the floodgates for false, frivolous and concocted FIRs against him”.
The bench said, “…we are not at all inclined to quash the said FIRs and we are of the opinion that the allegations levelled are serious and, therefore, should be investigated.”