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Monday, April 12, 2021

Explained: How Mumbai Police reinstated Sachin Waze after 16 years despite a court order

A look at the reasoning and procedure followed by the Mumbai Police to reinstate Sachin Waze into the force last year.

Written by Sadaf Modak , Edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai |
Updated: March 24, 2021 9:02:39 am
Sachin Waze newsAS PART of its investigation into the Ambani security scare case, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday seized two more vehicles – a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and a Mercedes -- that were used by suspended Assistant Police Inspector (PTI Photo: Mitesh Bhuvad)

Arrested Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze has been suspended for the second time in his career. The Mumbai Police officer was reinstated last June after being under suspension for over 16 years for his alleged role in the Khwaja Yunus custodial death case.

After allegations and counter-allegations were exchanged between shunted Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh and Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh regarding Waze, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said on Sunday that the decision to reinstate Waze in the force was that of Singh.

We explain the reasoning and procedure followed by the Mumbai Police to reinstate Waze into the force last year.

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When was Sachin Waze suspended earlier?

Sachin Waze along with three police constables are facing charges of murder and destruction of evidence for the custodial death of Khwaja Yunus, a 27-year-old software engineer, in 2003. Waze, who was leading a team of officials ferrying Yunus, arrested as part of the probe into the Ghatkopar blast, had claimed that the jeep they were traveling in met with an accident and fell into a gorge. He said in a complaint filed before Paner police in 2003 that Yunus then escaped from the vehicle. The men who were arrested with Yunus had testified that they had last seen him alive on January 6, 2003, when he was allegedly being tortured in the police cell and had been vomiting blood.

Family members of Yunus approached the Bombay High Court for a probe following which the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) filed a complaint against the four including Waze. The High Court in 2004 also directed that the men be suspended and a disciplinary inquiry be started against them.

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When was Sachin Waze reinstated?

With the trial in the case still pending, 16 years after Waze and three others were suspended, a decision was taken last year to reinstate them in the Mumbai Police force. A notice said a decision in this regard was taken at a meeting held on June 5, 2020, under the chairmanship of the city police commissioner Param Bir Singh. These meetings are as per rules held periodically to review decisions on suspended police officials. Waze was first given a posting at the local arms unit and within four days posted at the Criminal Intelligence Unit, a specialised arm of the Mumbai Crime Branch.

Since then, he was leading several investigations, including into the TRP scam case, the Hrithik-Kangana email case, fake followers case (in which they investigated companies that allegedly took money to provide fake followers to social media users. Rapper Badshah was called for questioning in the case) and also accompanied the team probing the abetment to suicide case of interior decorator Anvay Naik, in which Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami was arrested last year.

What did the Mumbai Police say about his reinstatement?

The Mumbai Police said that it had decided to end his “continuous suspension” for over 16 years based on various factors, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the delay in his trial.

The reinstatement of Waze was challenged by Asiya Begum, Yunus’s  mother. She said that the reinstatement was contempt of the High Court’s 2004 order which had directed a disciplinary inquiry against him and three others. A reply filed to the petition by the Mumbai police, in July 2020, said that in 2006, the then additional commissioner of police (crime) had prepared a detailed note on the disciplinary inquiry. It said that since the legal process through the criminal trial was underway, “there is no point in conducting any enquiry…. such enquiry will contravene the legal provisions”. The note was approved by the then city commissioner, based on which, it was decided that no inquiry would be conducted against them, since they are facing criminal charges on the same allegations.

The police also said it had relied on a 2011 state government circular which says that depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, if a case is pending even after two years of a chargesheet being filed, the suspension can be ended after a recommendation by the review committee.

The committee had also recommended Waze’s reinstatement along with 17 other police officers claiming that it had considered the ‘vital’ issue of policemen getting infected by Covid-19 and the ‘overwhelming scenario of need of more policemen on duty’ after many policemen lost their lives.

In a hearing in the petition this January, the Bombay High Court sought to know from Yunus’ mother how she was personally affected by the reinstatement. The petition has now been kept for hearing on March 31. After Waze’s name cropped up for allegedly being involved in the bomb scare at Mukesh Ambani’s Antilia residence last month, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said that during his term he had been approached by his allies in the Shiv Sena to reinstate Waze. He said that he had sought the opinion of the advocate general who had said that it was not proper to revoke it since the suspension was on the basis of a court order.

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