The Gujarat government has appointed 46 MLAs of 26 districts in the state as members of the District Pol-ice Complaints Authority, established in every district of the state under the provisions of the Gujarat Police Act, 2007.
Significant among these appointments is the lone MLA of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Gujarat from Kutiyana constituency of Porbandar district, Kandhal Jadeja, son of late ‘godmother’ Santokben Jadeja. He is facing 15 serious criminal cases.
District Police Complaints Authority is a platform where anybody can lodge a complaint against a police officer up to the rank of inspector posted in the district.
Among the appointments made on August 19, three MLAs are from opposition Congress — Vikram Madam in Jamnagar, Vimal Chudasama in Gir Somnath and Bhagabhai Barad in Junagadh.
Kandhal Jadeja has been appointed member of the Porbandar district police complaints authority along with BJP MLA and former minister in the Gujarat government, Babu Bokhiriya.
Kandhal had voted against his party whip in favour of BJP candidates during the elections to the four Rajya Sabha seats held in June this year.
The eldest of four sons of godmother Santok Jadeja, Kandhal is facing as many as 15 cases of gunrunning, possessing explosives, extortion bid, assault, forgery, escaping from lawful custody, rioting, criminal intimidation, etc.
Three of these cases of assault and rioting were registered during his seven years as MLA from Kutiyana. Of the total 15 cases, 10 are registered in Porbandar district, three in Rajkot city and two in Ahmedabad city.
As per the Gujarat Police Act, the District Police complaints Authority can, “inquire into the complaints involving serious dereliction from duty, grave misconduct, misuse of powers and such other matters as may be directed by the State Government against the police officers up to the rank of Police Inspector”.
It can also monitor the progress of departmental inquiries into cases of complaints of misconduct against police officers.
After an inquiry into a complaint of misconduct, the authority can make recommendations to the disciplinary authority concerned. If a complaint of non-registration of First Information Report (FIR) is found to be correct, the authority can also direct registration of FIR.
The state government can appoint two members of the assembly elected from a district as members of the authority. Superintendent of Police is the ex-officio chairperson of the authority with a deputy superintendent of police as ex-officio member-secretary. An additional district magistrate of the district is also ex-officio member of the authority.
Jadeja’s foray into the world of crime began in 1994 when he was allegedly found in possession of illegal firearms — a foreign made pistol, two country-made revolvers and a rifle and cartridges — and was booked by Ranavav police in Porbandar. The same year, he was booked under the Arms Act and rioting in the jurisdiction of Pradyumannagar police in Rajkot city.
He is facing at least six cases under the Arms Act. He was booked under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act by Kutiyana police in Porbandar in 1995 after a revolver and other firearms were allegedly recovered from him.
He’s also facing four cases of rioting and one of extortion bid. In 2011, Shahpur police in Ahmedabad booked him under the Arms Act, Explosives Act and for forgery of documents for allegedly procuring arms.
Kandhal also faced trial in the 1995 Prakash Modha murder and the 2005 Keshu Odedra murder, in Porbandar. Odedra, a BJP councillor in Porbandar municipality, was allegedly shot dead in Chhaya area of Porbandar.
While he was in Rajkot jail, his wife Rekha Jadeja was allegedly shot dead by an unidentified gunman at her Rajkot residence. Around six months later, Kandhal allegedly fled from a hospital where he was admitted for treatment as an undertrial, and later got married to Manisha Karavadra.
Police later arrested Kandhal’s younger brother Karan for Rekha’s murder over her growing clout in the family.
Kandhal was arrested by police from a town near Pune in 2009 and tried for Odedra’s murder. However, a local court in Porbandar acquitted all the 10 accused for want of evidence in 2011. A Porbandar court in 2006 acquitted Kandhal and Santokben in the Prakash Modha murder case also.
After becoming an MLA in 2012 on an NCP ticket, Kandhal and eight others were booked by Kirti Mandir police in 2015 for allegedly assaulting Nagesh Odedra, son of then Kutiyana municipality president Dheliben Odedra over a road rage.
Two days after his re-election from Kutiyana seat in 2017, Kandhal and his brothers were booked by Ranavav police for allegedly assaulting his former aide, Samat Odedra and a friend, on December 21, 2017.
Kandhal was arrested and a local court refused his plea for regular bail. However, the court accepted his plea for interim bail till December 25 sought on the ground that he needed to complete certain formalities related to his reelection from Kutiyana Assembly constituency.
Two days later, Kandhal and others allegedly vandalised a petrol pump in Ranavav after beating up two attendants there.
Babu Bokhiria, the former fisheries minister and other appointee on the panel for Porbandar district, and his three relatives were convicted by a trial court in Porbandar in 2013 for illegal mining of limestone worth Rs 54 crore from the lease area of a private company. However, the Porbandar district and sessions court acquitted them.
On appointing MLAs facing serious criminal cases to the district police complaints authority, Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said, “As per the (statutory) provisions for the appointments to (district) police complaints authority, any two MLAs from the respective district can be appointed. In Porbandar, we have only two MLAs; one is of BJP and the other is of NCP. So, he (Kandhal) has been appointed… We do not discriminate on the basis of party.”
Kandhal could not be reached for comments. His aide said he was busy helping people affected by heavy rain in his constituency.