The Goa State Police Complaint Authority (GSPCA) recently dismissed complaints against 14 police officials in view of lack of evidence to individually incriminate any of them for their involvement in the February 19, 2008, incidents in the complaint of atrocities by former Education Minister Babush Monserrate, his wife Jeniffer Monserrate (both Congress MLAs now) and two others in the “attack on Panaji police station” case.
However, the authority headed by retired judge Eurico Santan da Silva and comprising members Norbert Moraes and Shantkumar Bhat held Superintendent of Police Neeraj Kumar guilty of gross misconduct and abuse of authority for “having allowed, if not positively engaged, the policemen under his command to break the most elementary and basic rules of discipline and self-restraint being thus vicariously responsible for physical assault and serious injuries suffered by the complainants inside the premises of the police station.”
It directed the Chief Secretary of Goa to take steps to initiate, at the earliest, action as per law against Mr. Thakur through the Director General of Police and get reported its compliance to the authority within six months. Mr. Thakur was transferred after the incident.
Referring to the defence taken by the police that their action was retaliatory and in defence of their station where 16 policemen were injured in mob attack led by the MLA, the order inter alia said: “SP, who as a truly professional officer was expected to act with responsibility and required to discharge his duty with utmost restraint and moderation in order to help the dangerous conjuncture arisen on that day to blow up, not withstanding the eventual provocation under which the police claim to have reacted. The SP should have ensured that in the prevailing emergency all his subordinates should have behaved as real defenders of peace and guardians of law and order, even assuming that some of them had earlier been the victims of mob’s rowdy behaviour and in this process sustained injuries consequent upon throwing of stones and other missiles targeting the police station.”
While dismissing the complaint for lack of evidence against all others and holding Mr. Thakur guilty, the SPCA described the police action as a “real act of sheer and most repugnant vandalism”, and said: “We firmly refuse to condone such incommensurate and impermissible mode of retaliation on the part of the Superintendent of Police, clearly unfitting of discipline and self-restraint required to be always maintained by a responsible police force.”
The respondents had taken the defence that the Central Bureau of Investigation was investigating the case and as such the SPCA lacked authority to hold a parallel inquiry on the subject.
The former Minister, then an MLA, had led a morcha of Taleigao (his constituency) people against the Panaji police over a criminal case. The crowd attacked the police station injuring several police personnel, women constables, and then the police too became violent. The police arrested Mr. Monserrate, his wife Jeniffer, former Mayor Tony Rodrigues and others.