Mumbai court absolves 5 of all charges in Patankar drug casehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/mumbai-court-absolves-5-of-all-charges-in-patankar-drug-case-5876185/

Mumbai court absolves 5 of all charges in Patankar drug case

The Mumbai Police Crime Branch had last month filed a chargesheet in the special court dropping the names of the five policemen as accused.

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OVER FOUR years after five policemen, including then senior inspector of Anti-Narcotics Cell, Suhas Gokhale, were arrested for aiding alleged drug supplier Shashikala ‘Baby’ Patankar, a special court on Saturday dropped their names as accused, absolving them of all charges.

The Mumbai Police Crime Branch had last month filed a chargesheet in the special court dropping the names of the five policemen as accused. “I am finally relieved. The stigma of being named as an accused without being involved in any offence kept troubling us for these four years. The court’s order will end the stigma and it shows that we were falsely implicated,” Gokhale said on Saturday evening.

He added that he is awaiting the certified copy of the court order to decide the future legal course he will take. “I am as clueless as I was in May 2015 about why I was named as an accused, on the eve of my retirement and my promotion as an assistant commissioner of police, despite there being no evidence against me. I will decide what to do next, including taking legal action against those who defamed me, fighting for my rightful dues and the promotion and pension benefits that were denied to me.”

Along with Gokhale, the names of inspector Gautam Gaikwad, who was also arrested on the eve of his retirement; sub-inspector Jyotiram Mane, who retired last year; sub-inspector Sudhakar Sarang and head constable Yeshwant Parate, who are still serving, were also dropped.

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The case dates back to 2015 when the police had claimed to have recovered 124 kg of mephedrone from constable Dharmaraj Kalokhe, an alleged accomplice of Patankar. The police had arrested the five men claiming that they had aided Patankar in evading arrest.

In two forensic tests conducted over the last four years, however, the seized substance was found to be food additive ajinomoto. The court finally directed the police to either file a chargesheet or a closure report.

In a chargesheet filed on July 17, the police had stated that the substance found with Kalokhe was used to dilute the artificial drug before selling small quantities to customers. The police charged Kalokhe, Patankar and three others for possessing 20 gram of charas, imported liquor and a forged identity card.

The special court on Saturday said Kalokhe and Patankar can be tried before a magistrate court.