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CM ropes in ATS to crack Dabholkar murder case

At a time when the competency of the state police force has become a topic of public debate, it appears that even CM Prithviraj Chavan is one of the many who doubts the efficacy of the men in khaki.

During an informal chat with mediapersons yesterday, Chavan said 19 police teams were still on the lookout for rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar’s killers despite the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) joining them.


Pondering: Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. File Pic

CM had asked ATS chief Rakesh Maria to assist Pune police for an early breakthrough. Maria then met the officials and took stock of the ongoing investigation, and offered a few tips. The delay in making headway in the murder that occurred on August 20 has invited public ire.

Secondly, the CM mentioned the lack of political consensus on the issue of police transfers. His statement is important considering the fact that transfers of policemen have been due for the last four months.

Dr Narendra Dabholkar
Murdered: Dr Narendra Dabholkar was gunned down by two assailants

The transfers have been in a limbo for two reasons. What the CM seemed to be referring to was the lack of consensus between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), as sources claim both the parties want specific recommendations to be approved. Even though the NCP’s R R Patil heads the home department, final approval for transfers and posting of IPS officers need CM’s approval.

Police transfers put state in a quandary
Simultaneously, the government faces the dilemma about overruling the Supreme Court’s (SC) directives on police transfers, issued during the hearing on Prakash Singh vs Government of India case.

The apex court wants the procedure for transfers to be applied as per the administrative criteria. It had suggested police establishment boards, involving senior police officers and additional chief secretary of the home department, to take a call on the issue instead of the present system wherein the home minister and the CM have the authority to take the final call.

Those states, which failed to follow the directives, have invited contempt of the SC, Chavan said. But the state government’s move to follow SC directives, diluting powers of the minister and CM, has invited ire of the state cabinet. “Cabinet has certain reservations on the issue”, he said. The cabinet has now formed a group of ministers to decide the issue, as the government will have to exclude police transfers from the state act on transfers. 

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