For four years, Mumbai Police stuck to its claim: that the seized substance was the banned drug mephedrone, even rejecting the findings of two forensic science laboratories (FSLs), which found no traces of any drugs. The substance in question was seized in 2015. More than 100 kg of it. Samples were tested at two FSLs, which said it was food additive ajinomoto, not mephedrone.
A Mumbai Police constable, Dharmaraj Kalokhe, was arrested and dismissed from service, accused of colluding with alleged drug-peddler Shashikala Patankar. Several policemen were also arrested. Now, in a further setback to Mumbai Police claims, even the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in Chandigarh has ruled that the seized substance is ajinomoto. After the findings were submitted in court, the Bombay City Civil and Sessions Court on Tuesday directed Mumbai Police to either file a chargesheet against the accused or submit a closure report in case of lack of evidence.
The CFSL report, which was prepared on December 11, 2018 but submitted in court only on Saturday and unsealed on Monday, states that the 12 samples weighing between 4.6 and 5.8 grams tested positive for sodium glutamate (ajinomoto) and negative for mephedrone and other narcotic substances. The report backs those of FSL, Kalina, and CSFL, Hyderabad, both of which had stated that the samples contained no traces of any drugs, disputing the claims of Satara police and Mumbai Police, which had raided the village and locker of Kalokhe in March 2015, respectively.
While Satara police had seized 112 kg of the substance from the house of Kalokhe’s neighbour, Mumbai Police a day later claimed to have found 12 kg more of the substance from Kalokhe’s locker at Marine Drive police station. Kalokhe was arrested, as also Patankar and her son Satish, who police claimed supplied the substance to him. Soon after, police arrested Senior Inspector Suhas Gokhale, Inspector Gautam Gaikwad, Sub-Inspector Sudhakar Sarang, Assistant Sub-Inspector Jyotiram Mane and Head Constable Yeshwant Parate for allegedly aiding Patankar and Satish to evade arrest. At the time, Mumbai Police Crime Branch had claimed Kalokhe and Patankar were running a business of supplying drugs.
Gokhale, who was posted in the Anti Narcotics Cell, Mumbai, and Gaikwad were arrested a day before they were to retire. “The Crime Branch now needs to answer why they placed me under arrest. The forensic report disproves police’s case. The stigma I have carried for four years will hopefully go away now,” said Gokhale. Patankar has been protesting her innocence all along. Lawyer Ayaz Khan, who is representing Patankar and Gokhale, said he would wait for the Crime Branch’s response to the court order before his next move.
All accused are out on bail, but the Crime Branch had deferred filing the chargesheet, citing proceedings in the Bombay High Court, which the accused moved in 2017 to quash the FIR. Last year, the HC granted permission to police to have the samples re-tested at CFSL, Chandigarh. Police’s plea to have the samples re-tested in spite of two negative reports had earlier been dismissed by a sessions court.
Patankar, the main accused in the case, was discharged by a special NDPS court in Satara in 2016, which accepted the negative report submitted by FSL, Pune. A senior Crime Branch officer said a decision is yet to be taken on whether to prosecute the accused. “We are studying the CFSL report and will examine the evidence against the accused before taking a decision,” the officer said.
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