Nearly four months after a committee headed by Maharashtra ADGP (Law and Order) submitted a report to the state DGP stating that of the 642 cases registered in the aftermath of January’s Koregaon Bhima violence, only 54 are of serious nature that need to be investigated, the state home department has directed the police to form a committee to probe how many of these 642 cases could be withdrawn.
While the direction came on Tuesday, in the absence of a formal communication from the government so far, the police had already constituted a committee under the ADGP in June and submitted a report to the DGP stating that only 54 cases need to be investigated.
After Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said in the Assembly on March 13 that cases of political nature would be withdrawn, the police had sent three letters to the home department. While the first communique pertained to seeking a formal written order on forming a committee, the other two sought suggestions and made recommendations on forming a committee at every district and commissionerate.
Amitabh Gupta, Principal Secretary (Security), home department, said: “We have replied to their query.”
“In March, the chief minister told the Assembly that cases of political nature would be withdrawn. The communication about the same has been sent to the police recently… they have been asked to constitute a committee headed by ADGP (Law and Order) and submit a report on the cases that could be dropped. Under section 321 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the government is empowered to withdraw such cases,” said a senior home
In its communication to the home department, the state police had said that instead of going by the findings of the committee, the government could constitute a fresh panel as per a general resolution (GR) — allowing the withdrawal of political cases — it had issued in January, 2015 at every district and commissionerate. The committee comprising public leaders and police officers could decide on the cases, sources in the police said.
The police had also said that the GR was only applicable on cases registered up to November, 1, 2014 and therefore, a fresh GR has to be issued for withdrawing cases registered before February, 2018.
“In March, the chief minister had promised to constitute a police committee to probe serious cases but till date, we haven’t received any communication from the government. Since the matter was serious, a committee headed by ADGP (Law and Order) was formed. The other members of the committee included inspector general (Protection of Civil Rights), joint commissioner (Information Department) and inspector general (Law and Order),” said a senior official.
“The committee submitted its report saying that only 54 cases were of serious nature. These included cases of arson, deterring a public servant from performing his duties and those of voluntarily causing hurt or grievous hurt,” the official added.
“While the government promised that political cases should be withdrawn, this could be done only if there is a GR to that effect. The government had issued its last GR on withdrawal of political cases in January 2015… it had stated that cases lodged up to November 1, 2014, which are political in nature, should be withdrawn. However, the Koregaon Bhima cases were registered in January 2018 and therefore, the old GR doesn’t stand,” said the official.
“We have written multiple times to the government, suggesting that committees be set up at every district and commissionerates to probe cases registered under their jurisdictions,” said the official, adding that they were yet to hear from the home department. The last communication was sent to the department in September.
Sources said that among the 54 cases found to be serious, one was in Kolhapur where violent clashes had broken out between the Sainiks and the Dalit agitators and another case registered in Aurangabad where two police officers and eight constables were injured after 3,000 to 3,500 agitators gathered to protest near Cidco police station. The police fired 10 rounds of pellets and lobbed 18 tear gas shells. Another case was registered by Latur police, in which five policemen sustained minor injuries after agitators pelted stone on the police party.
When contacted, a home department official said that there was no need to set up a committee at the districts. “CrPC entitles the government to withdraw the cases. So, once we receive the report on the findings of the police on the cases that could be dropped, the government will act accordingly,” he said.