The Maharashtra government on Tuesday faced the ire of the Bombay High Court which sought to know if the state plans to initiate criminal action against police officers responsible for the illegal arrest of two girls in the Palghar Facebook case opposing the bandh enforced during Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s funeral in November 2012.

A division bench of Justices S. C. Dharmadhikari and S. B. Shukre was hearing a public interest litigation filed by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar seeking penal action for wrongful confinement and falsification of records to be taken against the “errant” cops.

The court was told by prosecutor Jayesh Yagnik that a departmental inquiry in under process against three police officials Superintendent of Police, Thane (rural) Ravindra Shengaonkar, Additional SP, Thane (rural) Sangram Nishandar and senior police inspector Shrikant Pingle.

“Is the state of the opinion that they should face only a departmental inquiry? You (state) feel this is not a punishable offence?”, Justice Dharmadhikari queried.

Observing that the law was equal for everyone, the court said “nobody should take law into their hands. If an ordinary citizen had done this, what would you (state) have done then? Why don’t you set the law in motion when a police officer is involved. This is the impression drawn.”

The court further noted that just because no member of public has come forward to give a complaint does not mean that the police force cannot take action against the errant personnel on its own.

The court has directed the government to revert within a week and inform whether the case will be closed only with a departmental inquiry or if the state desires to initiate steps under the criminal law.