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SIT arrests ex-commissioner R S Sharma

rediff.com Newsdesk | December 01, 2003 17:12 IST
Last Updated: December 02, 2003 01:10 IST

The Special Investigation Team probing the fake stamp paper racket on Monday arrested former Mumbai police commissioner R S Sharma, who retired on November 30.

He allegedly shielded prime accused in the case Abdul Karim Telgi.

Sharma was removed from the commissioner's post on November 18 after an SIT report pointed out the lapses on his part in the investigation into the racket, and posted as additional director general of police (administration) in the state police headquarters.

The Stamp Paper Scam: The Full Coverage

On November 24 he was appointed as chief security officer of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation.

Former Mumbai police commissioner R S Sharma. Photo: Arun PatilThe Maharashtra government also instituted a departmental inquiry against him and charged him with contravening the All-India Service (Conduct) Rules by not maintaining absolute integrity and devotion to his duties.

On November 25, Sharma was served a charge sheet, which mentioned the following shortcomings on his part:

* On July 9, 2002, the additional commissioner of police (crime) and joint commissioner of police scuttled a proposal to apply the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act in a case registered by the Pune police, then headed by Sharma, with his knowledge.

* ACP (crime) had brought to Sharma's notice in writing on October 16, 2002, the inclusion and deletion of certain names from the charge sheet (against prime accused Abdul Karim Telgi) without rational correlation with evidence on record. Yet he did not look at the case papers personally.

* Subsequently, Sharma failed to discipline both officers and also did nothing to rectify the defects in the charge sheet even after October 16, 2002.

* Sharma did not remove ACP M C Mulani from the investigating team formed on September 6, 2002, even after being informed by then additional secretary (home) Asoke Basak that Mulani had demanded a bribe from Telgi.

* While serving as Pune police commissioner, he failed to restore command and control when there was a dispute between the additional commissioner (crime) and the investigating officer (in the Telgi case).

* Subodh Jaiswal and Sri Kumar, top officers of the SIT in Maharashtra and Karnataka, respectively, had personally briefed Sharma about Telgi enjoying the comforts of his home in Cuffe Parade in Mumbai when they raided the place on January 9, 2003. At the time, Sharma was Mumbai police chief. He orally ordered the suspension of Assistant Police Inspector Dilip Kamat, but failed to ensure compliance of his orders.

* Sharma failed to take any action when serving as chairman of the Special Task Force formed to track down cases registered against Telgi in Mumbai. Sharma was then the Mumbai police commissioner. The Pune police had provided information about these cases to his deputy, then joint commissioner of police (crime) S S Vagal.

* As Mumbai police chief, Sharma failed to take charge of the situation and purge contaminated elements in the department even after Jaiswal and Sri Kumar personally briefed him.

* Sri Kumar had informed Sharma about the bail granted to Telgi in the fake stamp paper cases registered in Mumbai. Sharma merely acknowledged Sri Kumar's letter, which later went to Vagal.

* Sharma failed to promptly neutralise the functionaries responsible for allowing Telgi to get bail on flimsy grounds.

The charge sheet said Sharma failed to exercise himself to the utmost both as commissioner of police in Mumbai and, earlier, Pune. His approach and response to specific and strong signals regarding subversion by the crime syndicate allegedly headed by Telgi were not professional and not of the quality expected of an officer of his accomplishment, standing and position. "He is therefore guilty of dereliction of duty, poor professional response, and failure to personally intervene and take immediate correctives in several such situations," the charge sheet said.

Sharma was asked to reply to these charges by December 4.

Earlier on Monday, Mumbai Police Commissioner P S Pasricha called an emergency meeting with Joint and Deputy Commissioners of Police.

Sources told rediff.com that some more Mumbai police officers are expected to face arrest.

On Saturday the police had suspended Assistant Commissioner of Police Ramakant Padwal, who was due to retire on Sunday. Padwal has been accused of shielding Telgi.

Noted social worker and anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Monday said the thread of investigation in the racket 'seems to be heading towards Mantralaya'.

Sharma's arrest shows the Special Investigating Team under retired DGP S S Puri and DIG Subodh Jaiswal is doing a commendable job, he told reporters in Pune.

"That so many high ranking police officers are getting arrested is a pointer to the sorry state of affairs in the Maharashtra government. It raises many pertinent questions as to how Sharma got a promotion when he was an accused in the case," he said.

It was Hazare's public interest litigation (PIL) that prompted the Mumbai high court to appoint Puri to investigate the allegations of police complicity in the racket.

"The SIT investigation indicates how a tough and honest policeman can help in unravelling the truth and restore the confidence of the people in the functioning of the police department," Hazare added.

With inputs from Vijay Singh in Mumbai

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