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ADC's actions put Maharashtra governor in a spot
Vijay Singh in Mumbai | October 30, 2004 18:51 IST
Maharashtra Governor Mohammed Fazal, no stranger to controversy, must be appalled by all the attention surrounding his office this past fortnight.
His aide-de-camp, Indian Police Service officer Deepak Pande, is embroiled in an ugly domestic wrangle with his Indian Administrative Service officer wife Nidhi. To make matters worse, Pande's behaviour in public has left much to be desired.
A case has been filed against him for punishing Vishnu Patil, a traffic constable, so brutally that he ended up in hospital. Patil's 'mistake' was to have stopped Pande for talking on his cell phone while driving on October 1.
According to an internal inquiry of the police, Pande called the constable to his office at the Raj Bhavan premises for three consecutive days and made him stand on the grounds under a blazing sun. Patil collapsed on the third day and was taken to hospital.
When newspapers splashed reports of Pande's alleged misbehaviour, Nidhi, who had been complaining to her seniors about the ill-treatment at home, suddenly found an ally. Her IAS colleagues too backed her and now women's groups in the city have joined the chorus against her husband.
Pande has gone on a month's leave and is not answering calls at his Raj Bhavan residence. There are reports that Director General of Police K K Kashyap has transferred him to a non-executive post outside Mumbai. But this could not be independently confirmed.
Nidhi, a deputy chief officer in the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority, first wrote to her husband's superiors in April. She narrated in her letter an incident where Pande put his service revolver to her head threatening to kill her.
Nidhi alleged that she was being pressured for dowry and when she refused to give in Pande threw her out of their bungalow with her six-month-old baby.
Two inquiries, one by the Maharashtra State Commission for Women and the other a departmental probe, have reportedly found Pande guilty.
The women's commission has recommended that he be denied executive postings and his service weapon be confiscated.
Nidhi has maintained a dignified silence all this while. "I am not in a condition to discuss this matter with the media, please understand my problem," she told rediff.com with folded hands when we tried to speak to her.
There is pressure on her now to not file a first information report against her husband. If she does file it, Pande will face charges under section 498 of the Indian Penal Code for dowry harassment, a cognisable, non-bailable offence. Arrest is mandatory in cases under this section and this could lead to Pande's automatic suspension. If the charge is proved in court, of course, he will be dismissed from service.
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