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Baby Patankar case: Eight yrs after dismissal, cop’s plea for reinstatement rejected

MORE THAN eight years after he was dismissed from Mumbai Police after being arrested for his alleged connection with the narcotics case related to Shashikala “Baby” Patankar, Dharmaraj Kalokhe’s appeal against his dismissal was rejected by the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) last week.

Kalokhe (53) – and Patankar – had eventually been discharged in narcotics charges against him as the mephedrone that the police alleged was found on him turned out to be Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) as per forensic reports. However, the trial against him in one case is ongoing at the Mumbai Metropolitan Magistrate court on charges related to forgery and prohibition. Incidentally, the Mumbai crime branch last week registered a case of cheating against Patankar.

Kalokhe, who was then attached to the Marine Drive police station, was arrested on March 9, 2015 by Satara police from his native place Khandala for alleged possession of 112.29kg mephedrone. The next day when his locker at the Marine Drive police station was opened, another 11.47 kg mephedrone was alleged to have been found along with Indian and foreign currency amounting to Rs 2.35 crore. The Mumbai Police dismissed him on April 9, 2015 under Article 311(2)(b) of the Constitution of India.

Kalokhe’s lawyer challenged the dismissal on grounds that there was no departmental enquiry (DE) conducted in the matter and the dismissal order does not mention why a DE was not conducted. He further alleged that the dismissal was not based on “objective assessment” and that lodging of an FIR was not enough reason for dismissal from the force.

He further pointed out that the forensic reports from Pune Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) and Central FSL in Hyderabad both of which pointed out that the “contraband” was Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and not mephedrone as alleged by the police earlier. He pointed out that Kalokhe had been dismissed in a hurry by the Mumbai Police without waiting for the forensic report to confirm the substance seized was mephedrone.

The Presenting Officer for the government, however, argued that the then Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria had concluded that it was not reasonably practicable to hold a regular DE against Kalokhe and went ahead with the dismissal. The reason mentioned in a note on why DE was not reasonably practicable mentioned, “ …The act(s) of the delinquent ..has prompted the media to create a suspicion in the minds of the general public as regards the bona fides of the Police Department. This has invited scotching criticism from all corners of society.”

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The note added, “Escalation of such emotions of mistrust about the Law Enforcement Agency among the general public definitely is detrimental to the security and peace in the society as a whole. Therefore, it is imperative to initiate immediate action.”

The tribunal comprising of Justice Mridula Bhatkar and Member Medha Gadgil while dismissing Kalokhe’s plea for reinstatement observed, “Careful perusal of the record shows that it was not reasonably practicable to hold a regular DE against the applicant in view of the fact that respondent No.2 (Police Commissioner) has applied his mind to the serious charges levelled against the applicant (Kalokhe). The respondent No.2 had put everything relevant to the case in writing as to why he had come to the conclusion that the applicant be dismissed by invoking the provisions of Article 311(2)(b) of the Constitution of India.”

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The Tribunal further observed, “It is seen that all the procedure has been followed by respondent No.2. He has clearly mentioned that due to the connections of the applicant with the underworld, nobody will dare to depose against the applicant, which is why he reached to the conclusion that this is a fit case wherein the regular DE should be dispensed with and the applicant be dismissed …”

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