Maha cop told not to record politicos` visits

All police stations in Maharashtra have been ordered by authorities not to make records of phone calls or document "unofficial" visits of politicians.

Mumbai: All police stations in Maharashtra have been ordered by authorities not to make records of phone calls or document "unofficial" visits of politicians, a move that came against the backdrop of Supreme Court reprimand for Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

The direction by Maharashtra police headquarters that appeared to be loaded in favour of politicians having a penchant for interfering in the course of law came amid a controversy over the former chief minister using his office to to influence a police case to protect another politician.

A circular in this regard was issued on November 18, 2010, following an assurance by the then deputy chief minister R R Patil in the Legislative Council in 2007 but became public only this week.

Patil, following complaints from some legislators about the mention of their names in police diaries after they made phone calls or unofficial visits to the police station in connection with cases, had assured them that he would look into the matter and take appropriate action.

Though the circular, signed by special inspector general of police Gulabrao Pol, does not specifically mention politicians, it refers to the assurance made by Patil.

Some legislators had complained to Patil about police officers making notes of their phone calls and visits and making entries in case diaries and forwarding it to the court.

The circular was issued about a month before the Supreme Court rapped Deshmukh and penalised the state Rs 10 lakh for trying to protect Congress legislator Dilip Sananda`s father Gokulchand Sananda from arrest in a money-lending case in 2006 in Vidarbha where farmers were hit by drought.

According to the circular, the police inspectors should make diary notings only of visits mentioned under rules 226 and 525 of the Police Manual (Part 3).

These rules deal with visits of senior police officers, handing over of charge, an officer stepping out of the police station for an investigation, information received and detention of suspects.

"It means, now onwards any calls or unofficial visits of legislators or ministers with regards to any case to the police stations will not be registered in the station diaries," a police officer said.

The complaint against Sananda had been filed by two farmers from Buldhana district, who had pledged their land to him for a loan and, as they could not pay back due to exorbitant interest, it was seized.

It was alleged that Deshmukh`s private secretary had called up the then superintendent of Police to inform that the chief minister did not want an FIR to be registered in the case.

Accordingly, the SP asked his subordinates not to register an FIR but recorded the same in the file.

The complainants subsequently approached the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court alleging that police refused to register a criminal case against Sananda after which the court imposed a fine on the government in March 2009.

The Maharashtra government moved the Supreme Court against the judgement but while upholding the high court order it imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh on the state government.