Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal orders state to lift suspension on tainted cop Hiralal Jadhav, as enquiry has not been completed in time, furious prison bosses explore their options
The most controversial officer of the state prison department, Hiralal Jadhav — who was suspended following allegations of sexual harassment, corruption and extortion —will now be reinstated thanks to an order from the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT). This is a major setback for the prison department, which is investigating the charges against Jadhav and has pushed for his removal.
Hiralal Jadhav had been at the centre of several controversies but would always manage to wriggle out of trouble. However, the tainted cop was suspended in September 2016, after mid-day's report on allegations that he had sexually harassed a junior woman constable.
Jadhav's fortunes turned on Tuesday, when the MAT ordered the state to lift his suspension, as the inquiry had not been completed in time. As per protocol, such inquiries are expected to complete in three months. However, since an extension of three months was granted for the inquiry, MAT observed that the probe can continue while Jadhav is on duty. Additional Commissioner of Police Ashwati Dorje is conducting the inquiry.
The complainant filed a molestation case with the Thane police last August. She even turned in WhatsApp messages and audio clips that Jadhav had sent to her. Although she had asked him not to, Jadhav persisted in sending her poetry and pictures of himself. He also asked her to go on long drives with him.
Prison officials revealed that Jadhav had been suspended in 2013 as well after he was found guilty of using abusive language and crude gestures with women officers.
Hiralal Jadhav was suspended in September 2016
The prison department is contemplating on challenging the order in the Bombay High Court. Additional Director General (prisons) B Upadhyay told this reporter that the department is taking legal advice and will accordingly decide the further course of action.
Jadhav's shenanigans have left prison authorities red-faced time and again, and they are locked in an ugly fight against the erstwhile Thane Central Jail superintendent.
mid-day had reported just last month that the department had compiled a list of 25 controversies linked to Jadhav, pushing for the strictest action against him. The department is currently awaiting the inquiry report.
The authorities suspect Jadhav is also running a smear campaign against department officials after the prison riots in Byculla jail. During the riots, inmate Manjula Shetye was allegedly murdered by six jail personnel. Yet another controversy was sparked by the circulation of a WhatsApp message from Prison DIG Swathi Sathe, who supported the six arrested jail staffers.
Senior officers strongly suspected Jadhav was the one circulating Sathe's message. He had also written to the Chief Minister, alleging that Sathe was not only urging jail officials to provide moral support to their 'sisters', but was also asking them to collect donations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 to arrange for a defence lawyer.
Later, Jadhav filed an intervention report in a PIL filed in the high court in connection with the Byculla jail incident, seeking action against Sathe and other officials. It was in response to this that the prison department attached the list of Jadhav's 25 controversies.
A few weeks ago, the office of the Inspector General of Police (south prisons), Byculla, also sent a 'default' report to the ADG heading the prison department, recommending strictest action. Recently, yet another FIR was filed against Jadhav for allegedly misusing prison department's funds for fuel for his private car. A senior jail official said that Jadhav's service record is full of cases of molesting and misbehaving with female staff, harassing colleagues, bribery, abuse of power. The official added that Jadhav had brought a bad name to the department, hence they want strict action against him.
Despite repeated attempts to contact Jadhav, he was unavailable for comment.
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