HC seeks record of railway cop who died of Covid

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra government to submit all official records of Mumbai Railway police assistant sub-inspector Suresh Hatankar, who died of COVID-19 in May.

The direction was issued by a bench led by Justice SJ Kathawalla that is presiding over a plea filed by Hatankar's second wife seeking a share in the compensation amount of over Rs 60 lakh that the deceased's legal heirs will receive from the state government.

As a state government resolution promises a compensation of Rs 65 lakh to any police personnel who dies of COVID-19 while on duty, two women, both claiming to be Hatankar's wives, have put a claim to the payout.

Subsequently, Hatankar's second wife, and their daughter from such marriage, approached the HC, seeking that they be given a proportionate share of the compensation amount to save them from "starvation" and homelessness.

On Friday, Hatankar's first wife and his daughter from her claimed that they had no idea of his second marriage.

However, the petitioner (second wife) produced copies of some Facebook posts where Hatankar's daughters from both his marriages had interacted on Facebook. Justice Kathawalla, therefore, said that it was apparent that all parties were not being honest and that they might have been making false statements in the court.

He thus directed that both the families place their side of arguments through affidavits.

He also directed advocate Jyoti Chavan, the counsel for the state government and the Railway police, to place before the court all of Hatankar's official records, any applications made by him during lifetime and his application for police quarters, among other things.

"We want everything. Any application he might have made during his lifetime. Any official record, or paper you have on him," the bench said.

The court also suggested seeking permission from HC Chief Justice Dipankar Datta for conducting a physical hearing in the matter so that all parties can remain present and it gets easier to hear claims and counter-claims.

Currently, the bench has been conducting hearings through video-conferencing.

On the previous hearing, the bench had observed that as per law, if a man had two wives, and both lay a claim to his money, only the first wife would be entitled to the same.

But the man's children from both marriages would get the money, too, it said.

A bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and Madhav Jamdar had made these observations on August 25 merely orally after the government submitted that there existed a previous judgement of the full Aurangabad bench of the Bombay HC that gave a similar direction.

Hatankar, who died of COVID-19 on May 30, had married his first wife in 1992 and tied the knot for a second time in 1998.

As per the plea, both marriages were registered under law.

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