Mumbai: Police sweeper gets home after nine-year struggle

Updated: Jun 10, 2019, 08:50 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Mohan Solanki moved the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal after he was dismissed in January 2017 in what appeared to be a bid to evict him from his quarters

Mohan Solanki at his house inside the police station premises. Pic/Atul Kamble
Mohan Solanki at his house inside the police station premises. Pic/Atul Kamble

The departmental inquiry against a sweeper, who did not exactly belong to the police department, finally came to an end on Thursday, June 6, with his reinstatement. Mohan Solanki, 44, who worked as a sweeper at the Dadar police station was taken back into service by Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve. The order came after Solanki faced seven years of an internal probe, and was subsequently dismissed in January 2017.

Solanki, a civil employee, was charged in 2010 for "illegal occupation" of a shanty inside the police station premises. He had challenged this abrupt departmental action at the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT), and had also decided to fight the directives that asked him to vacate the shanty that he had lived in for decades.

Advocate Rajeshwar Panchal, representing Solanki, raised two grounds to challenge the dismissal order before MAT. "My client not being a police personnel, the Police Act does not apply to him and hence inquiry held against him under it was illegal, and so is the consequent dismissal," said Panchal. Solanki is a civil/mantralaya staff and hence governed by the Maharashtra Civil Services (MCS) rules.

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Secondly, "the dismissal order issued by the DCP is illegal as he was not the appointing authority for Solanki." The police department had no defense to the MAT argument which is why the DGP which had earlier rejected the departmental appeal of Solanki, "had to withdraw the dismissal order and appellate order around November 2018," Panchal explained. "The department pretended to conduct a fresh inquiry into the matter from December 2018. It all finally came to an end with a small penalty of 'censure' imposed on Solanki instead of his dismissal," Panchal added.

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Solanki awaits dues

Solanki, overwhelmed with the development, said, "I have been reinstated as a sweeper and instead of cleaning Dadar police station, I would now be at work at the Police Colony in Dadar. I just hope my salary dues are paid and am thankful to my lawyer, who stood up for me and fought for a poor man's justice."
"My wife Jyoti works as domestic help and we are thus managing our two sons' - Vipul, 16, and Kiran, 9 - education and other expenses. They are happy to know their father is not guilty," Solanki said.

The case

Solanki, in his petition before the MAT, stated that he was appointed as a sweeper (Safai Kamgar) in 1991 on compassionate grounds following the demise of his father Mangal Solanki, who resided at room no 2 inside Dadar police station premises since 1958. Solanki has a receipt of a survey conducted under the Slum Rehabilitation Act. He was, however, charge-sheeted on February 17, 2010, for "unauthorised and illegal" occupation of the residence by "forging documents."

The charge sheet was issued by the inquiry officer (then Sr PI, Dadar), under rule 3 of Bombay Police (Punishment and Appeals) Rules Act, 1956.The IO held an inquiry without any presenting officer and himself took up that role too. "It was a case of the accuser being the judge in this case," read Solanki's plea. The IO's post-inquiry report held Solanki guilty.

After seven years of conducting an inquiry, on January 27, 2017, DCP Zone 5 and Additional DGP (Administration) issued an impugned order imposing the penalty of 'Removal from Service' to Solanki under the MCS rules while the charge-sheet was issued under Bombay Police (P&A) Rules, 1956.

Solanki moved an appeal against the order but Addnl DGP (Admn), who acted on behalf of state DGP, rejected it on April 4, 2018. That's when Solanki moved the MAT. During the inquiry, orders for demolition of his shanty were also given by the BMC on the behest of the police. Solanki moved a petition in the city civil court against the demolition order. An RTI query by him revealed that the police station and residential shelters inside the premises stood on government land which was under the City Collector. The Bombay High Court thus issued a stay order against the demolition.

Feb 2010
Charge-sheet filed against Solanki

Jan 2017
Solanki was dismissed from service

Nov 018
Dismissal order revoked

No. of years the inquiry took

Year Solanki joined service

Year since when Solanki's father resided at the shanty

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