26/11 call record case: Mumbai police gets govt nod to move HC

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Mumbai, Nov 6: In a relief to Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria, the Maharashtra government has allowed city police to move the Bombay High Court to challenge an order passed by the State Chief Information Commissioner, who initiated a judicial inquiry against him in connection with the alleged discrepancies in the 26/11 call records.

"The government has given permission to go and appeal in the Bombay High Court (against the order of the CIC)," Maria told PTI.

An affidavit in this regard would be filed soon after consulting the lawyers concerned, the top cop said. The city police had approached the State Home Department seeking permission to challenge Chief Information Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad's July order in court.

The transparency watchdog had asked the state government to institute an inquiry headed by a sitting or retired judge under Commission of Inquiry Act to go into why "misleading" information was provided to Vinita Kamte, wife of slain IPS officer Ashok Kamte, by Maria.

"Considering the information available, it looks like in this matter misleading information was provided, deliberately no information was shared or information was destroyed, delays were caused in providing information etc. And the commission agrees with the doubts raised by the complainant (Vinita Kamte)," Gaikwad had said in a scathing three-page order passed on July 9.

"Hence, I order the state government through the Chief Secretary to initiate an inquiry under the Commission of Enquiry Act 1952 headed by a sitting or retired judge," the order of the CIC had said. Maria as Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) had led the probe into the brazen terror assault launched by 10 Pakistani terrorists on November 26, 2008 and was heading the police control room for some time during the 72-hour siege.

Vinita Kamte had under RTI sought call logs of wireless conversations between the control room and Kamte's van in which he was killed with Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar.

She had alleged the details were first denied to her. However, when information was provided in November 2009 and February 2010, there were "serious discrepancies". 

"Maria did not allow information to be shared with Vinita Kamte. It is highly irresponsible. Is he trying to hide some information in the matter? It looks like if an impartial inquiry is not initiated then Vinita and the public will not be able to receive true information," the order that read like a virtual indictment of Maria, who took over as Mumbai police commissioner in February this year, said.

Kamte has accused Maria of not telling her who sent her husband towards Cama Hospital where he was killed even though he was in charge of the main control room during the first few hours of the attack.

The commission had criticised Maria and Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Amitabh Rajan, saying they did not attend two previous hearings, which showed their lack of seriousness about the entire incident.

"Maria gave various reasons for not attending the hearings, while Rajan did not give any reason for remaining absent," Gaikwad had said.

After Kamte's lawyers had raised the issue of certain discrepancies in information provided to her about the call logs, regarding timings mentioned in those, and raised doubts about their manipulation, the commission had asked Rajan to probe it.

Her lawyer had claimed there was a difference of six minutes in the call logs and main voice logger was not secured.

"Instead of himself (Rajan) conducting an inquiry into the incident, Rajan relied on the findings of the officers, who themselves were under the scanner, and then submitted the report.

"This is a very serious matter as he did not follow the commission's order. Such behaviour does not befit a senior bureaucrat," the CIC had said.

Kamte had also claimed she was given two completely different call log records from the south control room. The state had, meanwhile, submitted a different call record in the chargesheet it filed in the case.

In the book, 'To The Last Bullet' co-authored by her, Kamte had blamed Maria for not sending reinforcements to help her husband, appearing to give wrong information about the shootout that left three officers dead, and not helping them get medical assistance after they had been shot.

Following the allegations levelled against him in the book that was released in 2009, Maria, one of the most high-profile IPS officers in the country, had reportedly offered to resign.

PTI

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