Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Govt withdrew nearly 2000 cases in 6 years: RTI

TOI: MUMAI: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Political interference is a strong tool, and many law-breakers or criminals will vouch for it. After all, many of them have benefited from it. A Right to Information (RTI) application by an activist has revealed that the government has intervened in several cases, asking the police to close them.
 RTI activist Jeetendra Ghadge found that the law and order machinery has often had to bow to orders from Mantralaya and cancel charges against various offenders.
 Between 2006 and June 2012, the home department ordered various police stations across the state to close a total of 1,877 cases.
The police in Nagpur have had to shut down the largest number of cases—581, followed by Amravati where 139 offenders were released, thanks to political interference. In Mumbai, 92 cases were closed.
A senior IPS officer said, "The government has power to demand closure of cases. Often, a case is withdrawn because of political reasons. There have been cases when policemen were not willing to close some cases but were forced to follow the government's decision. On the other hand, at times if we find that a person involved in the offence is innocent, we request that the cases be closed."
But many don't see reason in pressing charges if the case has to be eventually withdrawn. "There is no doubt that these people have been held above the law by the government. If that's how Section 321 will be used even when there is no public interest involved, then let every accused approach the government and get his case withdrawn. It defeats the purpose of having a judiciary," said Ghadge.
For instance, trade union leader Bhai Jagtap and others were arrested by the Cuffe Parade police for forcibly entering the Cricket Club of India to establish a union of all CCI employees and for threatening the club's secretary. But later, the government issued orders to the police to withdraw the case.
Bhai Jagtap said, "Cases against people conducting morchas to highlight citizens' plight should be withdrawn, irrespective of the party they belong to."
Y P Singh, former police commissioner, said, "Often these are political offences, cases of rioting, student protest, etc. But that is not always the case."
Ghadge's RTI query reveals that two cases of theft were also withdrawn in Ratnagiri and Sangli. The Nehru Nagar police were forced to withdraw a case of criminal trespass and illegal occupation of a Mhada building that was lodged against a political worker.
"I am not surprised by the home department move to get these "special people" off the hook, I don't understand why the judge would consent to such withdrawal instead of letting the due process of law get complete. If indeed the case is false, after the trial, the case would have been dismissed anyway," added Ghadge.