Mumbai: The All India Services Rules gives powers to the government where it can compulsorily retire government officials if their track record is found to be below par. But Maharashtra has not exercised the power, despite having had controversial events like the one that surrounds the Antilla bomb scare and Hiran Mansukh murder, or that of the accusations levelled by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh against former home minister Anil Deshmukh. The instances have once again brought to fore the rot in the police force.
But this has not been new to Mumbai police or Maharashtra police that has in the past battled the underworld, the likes of Telgi and others, said senior police officials. There has always been the apprehension of the cops and criminal nexus, and it was spotted in the early ’90s by then police commissioner Ronnie Mendonca who had then written to former DG Arvind Inamdar naming 17 policemen who had underworld ties.
The action then was quick with the DG shunting them out of Mumbai to various districts. In fact, the nexus of cops with the underworld was such that a police constable who had started working with the underworld had to be killed in an encounter.
Later, police inspector Aslam Momin’s links with the underworld surfaced which saw him being dismissed from service. Similar has been the cases of Daya Nayak and Pradeep Sharma who were booked for disproportionate assets and murder respectively. But both challenged their cases and were restored back into service. Senior police officials and those retired state that it has much to do with the government micromanaging the police force and have not fully exercised the powers because of the existing corruption.
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner and top cop Julio Ribeiro said, "At the age of 50 and 55 there are provisions in the All India Service Rules for compulsory retirement of government officials after a review of their service track record is found to be below par. The government has never used this power. I don't understand why they don't use this provision.” If the politicians are in league with police officers like what we have seen in Sachin Vaze's matter, then they won't use it because they themselves are part of this corruption, said Ribeiro. “I used this provision in Punjab when I was an advisor to the governor there. Even just basic information that the officer has acquired properties and assets more than his source of income is enough ground to use this provision. The government can ask the official to simply leave the service," added Ribeiro.
"The government has been micromanaging the police force,” said a senior IPS officer, requesting anonymity. “We have seen ministers calling officers at all levels to their place and giving them directions. We have seen in the past also that some officers who have established direct links with the ministers do not even report to the commissioner of police,” added the officer.
Successive governments have taken the powers of transfers and postings of the officers from the rank of the inspector and above. A few months ago, former police commissioner Param Bir Singh had made few transfers of the DCP rank officers, but then the said order had to be reversed because apparently the transfers and postings were made without consulting the government, added the officer. “In the subject of law and order, police cannot decide alone and hence the government should be consulted. The government should only do the postings of the head of departments like the DGPs and police commissioners etc. but the decision on transfers and promotions of junior level officers should be left with the unit commander," added the officer.
When Ronnie Mendonca was the commissioner of police between 1997 till 2000, he had categorically made it clear to the government that transfers and postings of additional commissioners should be done by the police commissioner and not by the Mantralaya. The government had agreed to this then, said the officer.
Retired IPS officer MN Singh, who has also served in the Mumbai Police at various ranks such as deputy commissioner, joint commissioner of police (crime) and Mumbai Police Commissioner emphasised that there should be less political interference and micromanagement of the police force in the matters of transfers, postings and promotions of officers, in the matters of Investigation and in the matters of keeping a check on the illegalities in the city, from the politicians should stop in order to ensure a disciplined police force.
The point raised by Singh assumes significance as senior IPS officer Rashmi Shukla, while serving as head of state intelligence department since August last year had sent a report to then DGP Subodh Jaiswal on the involvement of an alleged network of ‘brokers’, particularly individuals with extensive political connections in arranging desired postings for police officers in exchange for massive monetary compensation. “It has been discovered that the “brokers” are in close contact and embroiled in these negotiations with several influential people. The police officers ranging from inspectors to several high ranking IPS officers in contact with such undesirable individuals,” Shukla had stated in her report.
Shukla had recommended that it should be brought to the Chief Minister’s notice as this casts sincere aspersions against the credibility and functioning of the government. It will erode public faith and trust in the administrative machinery. Shukla was later transferred to the Civil Defence Department on promotion and later she went on a central deputation.
Profile of some of the officers who were embroiled in controversies in the past
Daya Nayak (police inspector): Nayak,, who is currently posted with the Maharashtra ATS was earlier suspended following a suspension order based on allegations of disproportionate income. The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had carried out investigations against Nayak. The agency had declared Nayak absconding; when he voluntarily surrendered at the court, they arrested him on a non-bailable warrant and confined Nayak for 60 days without filing a chargesheet. Despite multiple raids and an intensive investigation, the ACB could not find any evidence against Nayak as possessing any assets disproportionate to his income. In 2008, a court threw out the ACB's demands for a re-arrest and condemned the ACB for targeting and vilifying a police officer without proof. Nayak was later reinstated in the force.
Sachin Vaze (assistant police inspector): Vaze was arrested on March 3, 2004 for falsifying facts in the Khwaja Yunus disappearance case and was released on bail. He was suspended from the force, following which he resigned and recently joined the Shiv Sena. In September 2008, the Parner court declared that Vaze’s complaint about Yunus’ escape was entirely false. The chargesheet’s main contention is that Yunus was last seen in custody of Vaze and the constables. It says Vaze admitted in affidavits filed before the Bombay High Court that Yunus was in his custody before his disappearance. Vaze was reinstated in the police force last year and was recently arrested by the National Investigation Agency in connection with two criminal offences.
Ravindra Angre (assistant commissioner of police): Encounter specialist Angre was arrested in connection with the case of extortion and threats to a builder. He was released from the Thane district central prison in 2009 after being there for more than 14 months. He was instrumental in wiping out the dreaded Manchekar gang.
Aslam Momin (police inspector): Momin was dismissed over his alleged links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahims brother Iqbal Kaskar. According to police sources, Momin was found to have spoken to Kaskar as well as Dawood aide Chhota Shakeel in early 2000. Aslam Momin was a 1983 Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) cadre officer. He served as a sub-inspector in Mumbai for the most part of his career, working with the Dadar and Mahim police in that time. In 1999, he was transferred to Kolhapur as a police inspector. After serving there for two years, he was brought back to Mumbai as a senior police inspector with the Andheri CIU, in 2001. Momin rose to greater heights when his team carried out numerous encounters in Mumbai. He also played an important role in the investigation of the Ghatkopar bomb blast. Later, he was credited with investigating the cases of various bookies, including Shobhan Mehta. He also unearthed the fake passport racket soon after the Balu Dokre shootout in Malaysia.
Pradeep Sharma (police inspector): One of the most high profile encounter specialist, police inspector Pradeep Sharma had gunned down over 100 criminals. Sharma was dismissed by the then police commissioner Hasan Gafoor in 2008, after he found that Sharma had links with the underworld. Sharma had challenged the order in the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal and the decision came in his favour. Sharma was also arrested for his alleged role in the fake encounter of suspected Chhota Rajan gang member Lakhan Bhaiya. He was later acquitted by the court from the said case and was reinstated in the police force and was posted at the Anti Extortion Cell of the Thane Police. Sharma too was questioned recently by the NIA in connection with the murder murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran and Antilia bomb scare case.
Arun Borude (police inspector)
Arun Borude belongs to the elite 1983 batch of the Mumbai Police. He had joined the force as a sub-inspector and since then has worked with Saki Naka police station, crime intelligence unit in Andheri, Powai Unit of the crime branch, Anti-Extortion Cell. He was in-charge of the unit of the Mumbai crime branch where it is alleged that Khwaja Yunus died after he was brutally tortured. After the State CID started its investigations in the Yunus case, Borude was questioned a few times. Fearing arrest, he had also taken an anticipatory bail from the court. He was later shunted out of Mumbai and was posted in Buldhana district, but he never reported there and reported sick for three years. He had close to 30 encounters to his credit. Borude was dismissed from the police force in 2010 after he was found to be involved in a rape case.