A report submitted by Additional Commissioner of Police (North) Fatteh Singh Patil on the Malvani “moral policing” episode that took place earlier this month is learnt to have concluded that the action taken against 13 couples who were rounded up from hotel rooms was a case of “police excess”. The ACP submitted his report Friday.
The probe has also found that the deputy commissioner of police under whose jurisdiction the raid was conducted proceeded on leave the same day, without receiving any update on the raids.
“While the report has been able to record the statements of the policemen who were part of the raiding party, statements of all the victims have not been included as many of the couples had given fake contact details,” a senior police officer told The Indian Express.
On August 6, the police had raided four beach lodges across the Madh- Marve area, and pulled out couples from lodge rooms and booked them for indecent behaviour. The police had registered 54 cases during the drive, under the Maharashtra (Bombay) Police Act, with 13 couples specifically booked for “indecent behaviour”.
Following the outcry and flak the police received for what was termed as “moral policing”, Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria ordered an inquiry and asked Patil to probe the incident and also see if there was any dereliction of duty on the part of Deputy Commissioner of Police Vikram Deshmane and the senior officer in-charge of Malvani police station Milind Kethle.
The inquiry report was to be submitted on August 14 but was put on hold as most of the couples had shared fake contact details, while a few whose contact information was genuine were avoiding the police. With the “main stakeholders shying away” from the probe, the report hit a roadblock. But the ‘interim’ report was submitted a day after the Bombay High Court expressed “shock” while hearing a PIL filed by a Khar-based businessman against the “wrongful exercise of power by the police”. The HC has given the state two weeks to file its reply.
According to sources, DCP Deshmane has claimed that he proceeded on leave immediately after ordering the raid and therefore was not aware of the illegal detentions and the penalty collected from the 13 couples.
“Deshmane claimed that on the eve of the raid he attended a meeting chaired by the commissioner of police to discuss police hospitals and proceeded on leave immediately after that. He had given instructions to carry out the raid over phone but did not follow it up with the officers on the arrests and detentions,” said a source.
Milind Khetle, whose role is also being probed, has claimed that he had nothing to do with the raid as it was carried out by officers of the local DCP squad that reports directly to the DCP.