NEARLY SIX months after being suspended for allegedly making sexual overtures to a 17-year-old girl, DIG Nishikant More, who approached the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) against his suspension, got a minor reprieve after MAT asked the Maharashtra government to review his suspension within four weeks. The order, issued earlier this month, was in response to More’s plea that the Departmental Enquiry (DE) against him had not even been started five months since his suspension.
An FIR was registered against More, a DIG with Motor Transport Section in Pune, at the Taloja police station on December 26 after the daughter of an acquaintance alleged that More, who had come to her birthday party uninvited, touched her inappropriately on the pretext of removing cake crumbs from her shirt. The FIR on charges of physical contact involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures in addition to sections of the Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 was subsequently registered.
Later the government on January 9 suspended More in contemplation of a Departmental Enquiry. After More’s representation to the government for his reinstatement was not accepted, he approached MAT on account of the delay in completing a DE against him.
The counsel for More argued before MAT that prolonged suspension of More beyond 90 days was unsustainable in law and hence he was entitled for reinstatement. Maharashtra government informed the court that a chargesheet in the FIR had been filed against More and the matter was sub judice in court. The government admitted before the court that the DE against More had not been initiated as yet.
More’s counsel also informed the court about the observation of the Bombay High Court while granting More anticipatory bail earlier this year. The HC observation read, “The last screen shot according to the prosecution relates to the incident as alleged which had occurred while picking up a piece of cake from the chest of the victim. The said screen shot in the form of photographs do not clearly show the alleged acts of outraging modesty…”
A P Kurhekar, judicial member of MAT, observed, “Maharashtra government had issued a GR dated 09.07.2019…acknowledging the legal position that where chargesheet (in DE) is not issued within three months, the suspension cannot be continued. The government therefore issued direction that competent authority should ensure that the chargesheet is issued in DE within 90 days of suspension.”
Observing that in the current case, no chargesheet had been issued in the DE, MAT directed the Maharashtra government to take review of More’s suspension and pass appropriate orders within four weeks and communicate the decision to More within two weeks.
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