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Action Initiated Against Policemen in Palghar Lynching Case, Maharashtra Govt Tells SC

Representative image.

Representative image.

The state government told a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan that it has filed an affidavit last month in which it has given various details, including action taken against policemen for alleged dereliction of duties in the case.

Maharashtra government informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that action has been initiated against some policemen in connection with the alleged lynching of three people, including two seers, in Palghar district in April this year. The state government told a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan that it has filed an affidavit last month in which it has given various details, including action taken against policemen for alleged dereliction of duties in the case.

We have placed on record all the actions taken by the state, the counsel appearing for Maharashtra told the bench, also comprising Justices R S Reddy and M R Shah. Maharashtra Police had last month filed the affidavit in the top court saying that action has been taken against 18 personnel, ranging from dismissal from service to salary cuts.

The apex court was hearing the pleas, including those seeking separate probes by the CBI and the NIA into the alleged lynching. The three victims from Kandivali in Mumbai were travelling in a car to attend a funeral at Surat in Gujarat amid the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown when their vehicle was stopped and they were attacked and killed by a mob in Gadchinchile village on the night of April 16 in the presence of police.

The victims were identified as Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri, 70, Sushil Giri Maharaj, 35, and Nilesh Telgade, 30, who was driving the vehicle. During the hearing, conducted through video-conferencing, one of the petitioners claimed they have got the around 1000-page affidavit filed by the state on Tuesday night only. Why is everybody filing reply at the last moment, the bench said, adding that it would grant time to the petitioners to file their reply.

A lawyer representing another petitioner argued that one wing of the state machinery is investigating the other wing in the case and this would not inspire confidence. We will consider it. We have not read the affidavit. How can we decide it today? Let the petitioners file their reply then we will take it up, the bench said.

The bench referred to the earlier order passed by it asking the state to bring on record the details of enquiry, including action taken against the police personnel, in the case. The state's counsel said these details have already been placed on record.

Action has been initiated against policemen. One policeman has been dismissed, some of them have been compulsorily retired, the state's counsel said, adding that charge sheet has been filed in the case. The bench has posted the matter for hearing in the week commencing November 16.

An affidavit has been filed by the state. Let the petitioners file a reply to the affidavit within two weeks, the bench said in its order. In an affidavit filed in the top court, the state police said it has punished "delinquent" policemen for their dereliction of duties in the alleged lynching of three people in Palghar district. The affidavit said as many as 18 delinquent police personnel have been awarded varying punishments and some of them have been dismissed from service and some of them have been compulsorily retired. Some delinquent cops have also been punished with the salary cuts, it said.

It said that state's criminal investigation department has so far filed two charge sheets in the case. Some of the pleas filed in the apex court have alleged that investigation by state police was being conducted in a biased manner.


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