Facebook arrests: Two cops suspended, magistrate shifted



Mumbai: Two police officers, including the police chief of Thane (Rural), were on Tuesday suspended for the arrest of two girls over a Facebook post criticising the shutdown for Bal Thackeray's funeral, while the judicial magistrate who remanded them in custody was shunted out.

SP Ravindra Sengaonkar and senior police inspector Shrikant Pingle have been suspended and a departmental inquiry ordered against them, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil told reporters.

He assured that the departmental inquiry would be completed in the shortest possible time.

Patil said Additional SP Sangram Nishandar has been "warned in writing and reprimanded" for dereliction of duty.

"Wrong sections were applied against the girls. There was no need to take hasty action (against the girls)," Patil said, adding senior officers will probe what charges can be dropped.

Earlier, the Bombay High Court transferred judicial magistrate R G Bagade who first remanded Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan in custody and granted bail to them. The two girls were arrested last Monday after the former posted a Facebook status lamenting the November 18 shutdown and the latter "liked" it.

Though Dhada had not named Thackeray, a local Sena leader complained against the girls and police arrested the duo on November 19, sparking an outrage. A hospital owned by Dhada's uncle was also vandalised despite the girl apologising for her post.

The arrest had set off a debate with some legal experts maintaining that instead of remanding and then enlarging the girls on bail, Bagade should have discharged them from the case as they had been booked under wrong sections.

Bagade's transfer order issued yesterday by the Registrar of the Bombay High Court said, "JMFC at Palghar R G Bagade is hereby transferred in the same position to Jalgaon with immediate effect."

Patil said SP Shengaokar was placed under suspension for disobeying his superiors, who had advised against arresting the girls. Inspector Pingle invited action for charging them under wrong sections and preparing faulty records, he said.

PTI