SC to scrutinize Palghar lynching case chargesheets

A day after putting scanner on Mumbai police probe into alleged suicidal death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, the Supreme Court on Thursday decided to scrutinise Maharashtra police’s two chargesheets in Palghar ‘sadhu’ lynching case and asked the state government the action it took against policemen in whose presence the lynching took place.

A petition on behalf of Juna Akhara, to which the lunched sadhus belonged, complained before a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R S Reddy that the Maharashtra police was complicit in the crime and that the chargesheet would collapse during the trial and all 126 accused would go scot free in trial. They have demanded a CBI probe into the April 16 incident in which the two ‘sadhus’ and their driver were lynched in presence of policemen.

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta said, “it is too serious a matter and when allegations of police complicity in the crime are being made, the state government should have no hesitation in submitting the two chargesheets for the scrutiny of the highest court. If there is complicity of policemen in the lynching, then it is a case for CBI probe.”

Petitioner Sashank Shekhar Jha, Juna Akahara counsel Ashotosh Lohia and Balaji Srinivasan, as well as petitioner in person Suhas Jha made a strong complaint against state government of not taking any action against the policemen who were seen in a video, which went viral in social media, pushing the sadhus towards the lynch mob even though four months have passed.

The bench asked Maharashtra government counsel Rahul Chitnis to bring the Palghar lynching case chargesheets on record for scrutiny by the SC. It then asked, “what action have you taken against the erring policemen? If you have conducted an inquiry, and issued show cause notices to six policemen, what action has been taken?

“Let the state government bring the chargesheets on record. It has further been stated that a departmental enquiry against the police personnel was ordered and show-cause notices have been issued. Let details of the inquiry, including the action taken against the police personnel as well as inquiry report, be also brought on the record. Let an affidavit be filed by the State of Maharashtra within three weeks,” the bench ordered.

Maharashtra police informed the SC through an affidavit that “departmental inquiry was ordered against the police personnel, who have been prima facie found negligent and derelectin their performance of their duties in handling the (Palghar) incident and preventing the commission of the crime at and around the time of aforesaid crime.”

It said show cause notice has been issued to six policemen – Anandrao S Kale, Sudhi T Katare, Ravindra D Salunke, Naresh N Dhondi, Santosh R Mukune (all suspended) and Shashikant B Kadam. “After receipt of reply from them to the show cause notices appropriate action will be taken against them,” it said.

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