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As dissent grows, Maharashtra govt defends Rakesh Maria's appointment

Defending its decision to post IPS officer Rakesh Maria as the new Mumbai police commissioner, the Maharashtra government on Monday asserted that it went strictly by "merits" in the appointment

Amid reported disconent among some senior IPS officers over the appointment of Rakesh Maria as Mumbai Police Commissioner, Maharashtra government on Monday defended the move, saying there was nothing "unprecedented" about it.

"We have purely followed the rules. There is a rule, there is a government resolution (GR), an ordinance signed by the governor by which the Police Establishment Board (PEB) was set up. We have gone by it," Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told media persons in Karad in Satara.

Rakesh Maria
Rakesh Maria takes charge as Mumbai's new Police Commissioner on Sunday at the Police Commissioner's office near Crawford Market in south Mumbai, two weeks after his predecessor Satyapal Singh resigned to join politics. PIC/SHADAB KHAN

"Nobody has expressed dissatisfaction to me (over Maria's appointment)... there are no reasons for any such disgruntlement," Home Minister R R Patil told reporters in Mumbai.

Patil's comments came after reports that Maria's appointment as the head of Mumbai's 40,000 strong police force has led to resentment.

Two other contenders for the coveted post -- Vijay Kamble, ADG (State Highway Traffic) and Ahmed Javed, ADG (Law and Order), are reportedly miffed over being sidelined.

"If you look at the previous appointments to the post of Mumbai's Police Commissioner, you will find that seniority is just one of the criterion while zeroing in on the final choice.

"We also take into consideration factors like the quantum of tenure left; in which branch he has worked earlier; what problems is the city facing now...The government weighs on all these factors and takes the final decision," Patil said.

"As per the Supreme Court directives, the police establishment board was set up and it suggested three names. Though it is the prerogative of the government and it is a fact that till today seniority has not been the only criterion in these appointments. Despite all this, as far as possible, we consider seniority also but we have to take into account all the other things also," Patil said.

"After all, the security of Mumbai city is the most important thing. So, others (read Kamble and a few other sidelined senior IPS officers) should not draw the inference that injustice has been done to them," he said.

"After all, be it Mumbai or Thane, the Police Commissioner's post is of the additional DG rank," the minister said.

"I am sure these reportedly disgruntled officers will join their new postings and will perform their duty to keep people safe," Patil said.

Asked about reports that Maria's candidature was strongly pushed by his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Patil said "no, this is not rue. Things haven't taken place due to any such pressure (by NCP).

"Those who don't know anything about the administration can level such charges but I am sure that those who have been ministers, those who have information on such matters won't make any such allegations," the minister said.

Patil was apparently referring to Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Vinod Tawde (BJP) who has flayed the state government for "sidelining" Marathi IPS officer Vijay Kamble while appointing Maria as Mumbai police chief.

Rajya Sabha member and economist Bhalchandra Mungekar has also said on Monday that the state government's decision was "injustice to both Ahmed and Kamble."

RPI leader Ramdas Athawale today said the state government had sidelined Vijay Kamble, who was senior, and appointed Maria because it has a "casteist mentality".

Meanwhile, on fining MNS chief Raj Thackeray over the damage to property during his party's recent anti-toll stir, Patil said "we are in the process of assessing the damage. We will try all options to recover the cost, including attaching properties and informing the Election Commission."

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