Maharashtra land row: State grants sanction to CBI to prosecute six cops

Mohamed Thaver
Maharashtra land row: State grants sanction to CBI to prosecute six cops

The Maharashtra home department on Friday granted sanction to the CBI to prosecute six police personnel in a multi-crore land scam at Dahisar in Mumbai. (Representational Image)

THE MAHARASHTRA home department on Friday granted sanction to the CBI to prosecute six police personnel, including an assistant commissioner, in a multi-crore land scam at Dahisar in Mumbai. This was despite state police writing twice to the department against the grant of sanction.

The sanction came five months after the CBI sought permission to prosecute the police personnel for allegedly forcibly evicting the developer of a 16-acre plot, worth Rs 60 crore, at Dahisar in 2017.

“The home department has given the sanction to prosecute the six police personnel on Friday. The sanction had been sought by CBI mid-September,” a senior department official said.

The accused will be charged under sections 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) 182 (false information with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to injury of another person), 192 (fabricating false evidence), 196 (using evidence known to be false), 211 (false charge of offence made with intent to injure) and 298 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment) of the IPC.

The Indian Express had, on January 16, first reported about the delay the CBI was facing in receiving the sanction. The police had written to the home department on December 13, 2019 against granting prosecution sanction after the government sought its opinion. On January 27 this year, it wrote to the government for the second time, this time on its own, against the sanction.

“In the January 27 letter, the police reiterated its stand that prosecution sanction should not be given, as there was not enough evidence against the six personnel,” a senior official said. The letter, signed by a senior officer, stated that police had received requests from the officers charged in the case, and believed they were not part of any criminal activity.

“Usually, the government goes by the police’s opinion. However, in this case, since the state police and CBI seem to have contradictory opinions, the home department took the opinion of the law and judiciary department and decided to grant prosecution sanction,” the official said.

The CBI probe is a court-monitored investigation. The court will next hear the case on February 17.

Jude and Dominic Romell, directors of Rommell Housing LLP, who claimed to have purchased the land, had moved court, alleging “highhandedness” by ACP Prashant Marde, senior inspector Subhash Sawant, inspector Sanjeev Tawde, assistant inspector Anand Jadhav and sub-inspectors Kakasaheb Shinde and Rekha Sayakar.

The petitioners claimed to have bought the plot for Rs 60 crore from two private firms and a man Kamruddin Shaikh, whose family allegedly owned the land since 1971. However, in an FIR lodged on April 21, 2017, following a complaint by the late Shaikh’s grandson, police charged Jude with theft, dacoity and trespass.The next day, police allegedly removed porta cabins on the plot, razed barricades and gave possession of the land to the grandson.

Jude was arrested and remained behind bars till June 14, 2017, when he received bail. He then moved the Bombay High Court against Shaikh’s grandson and the police officers.

On January 17, 2018, the HC asked the Mumbai Police commissioner to get a probe conducted by the joint commissioner into allegations against the police personnel. The report of the probe conducted by the joint commissioner of police (Traffic), giving a clean chit to the officers, was submitted on February 12, 2018.

Expressing displeasure at the clean chit, the HC transferred the case to CBI, directing the agency to examine whether IPC Section 397 (robbery or dacoity with attempt to cause death, or grievious hurt) could be invoked and to investigate the complicity of the police officers in assisting the family of the late Shaikh. The respondents later approached the Supreme Court, which refused to interfere with the order.