A raging controversy over the transfer of 12 officers of the Mumbai police has exposed a rift between two top cops of the Maharashtra police, Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve and the state Anti Terrorism Squad head Deven Bharti.
The controversy began when 12 Mumbai police officers applied to Maharashtra DGP Subodh Jaiswal for transfer to the Bharti-headed ATS without keeping their unit commander — Mumbai police commissioner Barve — in the loop.
A miffed Barve shot off two showcause notices to the officers, well-regarded for their detection skills, seeking an explanation for bypassing him. But even as he had sent the first set of notices, the DGP posted 11 of the 12 to the ATS.
The 12 officers are seen as close to Bharti and have followed him to several of his other postings including the Crime Branch. It has been a long established practice by IPS officers in Mumbai police to take along with them a group of subordinate officers loyal to them to their next postings.
Bharti, a 1994-batch officer, has never been posted outside Mumbai police after 2005 except when he became IG Law & Order (Maharashtra Police), a Mumbai-based posting.
After the Lok Sabha elections were announced in March, the Election Commission ordered that Bharti, who is seen to be close to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, was moved out of his post as Joint CP, Law & Order (Mumbai) and posted as Joint Commissioner, Economic Offences Wing (Mumbai).
Despite being snubbed by DGP Jaiswal, Barve has decided to make a stand for procedure over practice and sent a second round of showcause notices to the officers informing them that their response to the first one was not satisfactory, and threatening to stop their increment for a year as they had failed to follow due procedure. The 12 officers have to submit their response in 10 days’ time, said a source.
All three principal dramatis personae have stayed mum as the controversy swirls. While the commissioner refused to speak on the issue. Bharti and Jaiswal did not respond to queries. A senior Mumbai police officer said had the 12 applied per procedure to the Commissioner, he very likely would have allowed the transfer.
A former DGP said normally whenever he received letters from junior officers seeking a posting to ATS he would check with the ATS chief if the candidates were suitable and also inform the commanding officer, in this case the commissioner
The 12 police officers, in ranks ranging from Senior Inspector to Assistant Police Inspector, are now apprehensive that their careers will suffer in the tussle between the IPS officers. “We have worked so hard for the force and we have received several rewards for good work… but because of some internal politics between our superiors, our ACR (Annual Confidential Report) is going to be affected,” said one officer.
The 12 officers are still working with Mumbai police. Sources in the department said even though Mumbai Commissioner may issue their relieving orders sooner or later, the officers fear some punitive action awaits them before they move to ATS.