The Bombay High Court on Thursday came down heavily on the state police for its inaction in an alleged assault on a 68-year-old woman over a property dispute,calling it a shocking state of affairs. The court also asked if police stations are meant only to protect builders and not ordinary citizens.
The remarks were made by the Bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode while hearing the case of Anusuya Patil,who alleged that she had been assaulted by a builder and ten-twelve persons most of them women on December 9 last year. The builder,Sandesh Gavlekar,had entered into an agreement with Patil to redevelop a building that she owns in Worli. Patil also claimed that an assistant police inspector,Vilas More,of Dadar police was present when the assault took place.
The judges were irked that the police had only registered a non-cognisable complaint instead of a first information report (FIR) when the petitioner approached them to register a case. They said the action amounted to putting the cart before the horse.
We are of the view that the case reveals a shocking state of affairs. Instead of registering an FIR,the police have acted as mute spectators in the case. Prima facie,it also appears that they have connived with the developers… They have clearly failed in their duty, Justice Kanade said.
The court has directed the Commissioner of Police,Mumbai to initiate a departmental enquiry against API More and report the status of the enquiry within four weeks.
Earlier,public prosecutor Poornima Kantharia had claimed that More was not present at all at the spot and that he was on duty at the Sidhhivinayak temple. However,the court refused to accept this as a reason not to register an FIR.
Reacting to the petition,the court said a similar situation prevailed in other parts of the state,especially pertaining to the security of senior citizens. Is this what we have come to in the state of Maharashtra?, Justice Kanade asked.
The court also criticised Kantharia for justifying the non-registration of an FIR. Public prosecutors are officers of the court first. Their job is to assist the court,not to justify such acts.
The case has now been transferred to the Crime Branch of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID),which has been directed to file an FIR.