Land deal: Maharashtra govt sits on file seeking nod to prosecute cops

Mohamed Thaver

A government official told The Indian Express the application for prosecution sanction was sent by CBI to Maharashtra Home Department in September. (File)

IT HAS been four months since the CBI sought Maharashtra government sanction to prosecute four officers of the Mumbai police for allegedly forcibly evicting the developer of a 16-acre plot worth Rs 60 crores in Dahisar in 2017, but the file continues to be still in process.

The four officers include a former Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) rank officer of the Mumbai police. A government official told The Indian Express the application for prosecution sanction was sent by CBI to Maharashtra Home Department in September. “We haven’t heard back from the state government,” an official, who did not wish to be named, said.

A CBI spokesperson refused to comment on the issue. An official from the Maharashtra Home Department said “the file is in process” and refused to comment any further.

The Indian Express has learnt that some senior officers in the Maharashtra police are against the grant of sanction for prosecution. Separate sources confirmed that an official also approached the leadership in the new government to make the case for not granting sanction. But as the case is being monitored by the Bombay High Court, the political leadership has been advised by other senior functionaries against any move that may be perceived as shielding the implicated officials.

Prior to the court-ordered CBI probe, Jude and Dominic Romell, directors in Rommell Housing LLP, who claimed to have purchased the land in question, filed a petition before the court alleging “high handedness” on the part of the then Dahisar division ACP Prashant Marde, Dahisar (E), senior police inspector Subhash Sawant, then Assistant Police Inspector Anand Jadhav and Sub Inspector Kakasaheb Shinde. The petitioners claimed to have bought the plot for Rs 60 crore near Dahisar Check Naka from two private firms and one Kamruddin Shaikh, whose family claims to be in possession of the land since 1971.

However, on an FIR on April 21, 2017 by the late Shaikh’s grandson, the police charged the director of the housing firm with theft, dacoity, and trespass. The next day, they allegedly removed the porta cabins, razed the barricades and gave possession to the Shaikh’s grandson. Jude was arrested and remained in jail until June 14, 2017 when he finally received bail.

After Jude found that the possession of the land was back with the Shaikh, he approached the Bombay High Court against him and the four police officers.

During the course of the hearing on January 17, 2018, the HC asked the Mumbai Commissioner of Police to conduct an enquiry through the the Joint Commissioner of Police into allegations of police connivance. The court also asked the four officers to either be suspended or transferred from the police station so that an impartial enquiry could be carried out. Accordingly, the Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) conducted an enquiry and a report was submitted on February 12, 2018.

The High Court had expressed displeasure at the “clean chit” given to the officers in the enquiry report and transferred the case to the CBI directing the agency to examine whether IPC Section 397 (robbery or dacoity with attempt to cause death, or grievous hurt) was attracted or not and to investigate the complicity of the four police officers in assisting the family of the late Kamruddin Shaikh. The respondents had approached the Supreme Court which refused to interfere with the Bombay High Court order.

Last year on March 14, the special crime branch of the CBI registered an FIR against the four officers. Eventually, in November last year, the CBI informed the court that it had sent its investigation report to the Maharashtra government for prosecution sanction. The matter will now be heard by the court on January 20.