PCI chairman lauds Maharashtra CM for suspending errant police officials

Press Council of India chairperson Markandey Katju on Tuesday commended the Maharashtra government for its “strong step” in suspending the police officers who arrested two girls for questioning the shutdown in the city after the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.

Thane Superintendent of Police (Rural) Ravindra Sengaonkar and Senior Inspector of Palghar police station Srikant Pingale were suspended over the arrests of Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan of Palghar, who had questioned in a Facebook post the Mumbai bandh that disrupted the city during Mr. Thackeray’s funeral.

Mr. Katju likened the instance of the Palghar cops “blindly carrying out their orders” to the situation during the Nuremberg Trials where Nazi war criminals in the dock took the line that they were only carrying out the orders of Adolf Hitler.

“The Supreme Court [in the appeal against the judgment of the Kerala High Court] and High Courts have repeatedly held that such bandhs and shutdowns are illegal as they paralyse the entire civic life in the city. Hence, what the girls did was in accordance with the Supreme Court judgment. How, then, could their act be called illegal?” said Mr. Katju in his letter, congratulating Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan for suspending the officers concerned.

Mr. Katju said it was the policemen who arrested the girls who, in fact, had acted illegally and committed the criminal offences mentioned in Sections 341 and 342 of the Indian Penal Code. Mr. Katju questioned the conduct of the policemen who had succumbed to the pressure of the band of hooligans that came to the Palghar police station.

In an earlier letter, the PCI chairperson had lambasted Mr. Chavan over the arrests, saying the matter was much too serious to be treated in a cavalier manner.

He exhorted the Chief Minister to crush gangs flourishing in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra. “These gangs, some professing a separatist ideology, must be crushed with an iron hand as they are terrorising people living in the State,” said Mr. Katju.

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