Bombay HC slams IO who shielded cop accused in woman’s death

The court said an IO is not supposed to leave loopholes in a probe that create an advantage in favour of the accused.

THE BOMBAY High Court’s Aurangabad bench asked the commissioner of police (CP), Aurangabad, to conduct an inquiry and if found guilty, take strict action against the investigating officer (IO), who allegedly shielded a police official, accused of killing a woman in 2019.

The court said an IO is not supposed to leave loopholes in a probe that create an advantage in favour of the accused.

A division bench of Justice Ravindra V Ghuge and Bhalchandra U Debadwar on March 19 passed an order while hearing a criminal writ petition filed by Mohammad Zaheer Azam, father of a female college student who was killed in the accident.

A probe was initiated into the incident through Assistant Police Inspector (API) S K Khatane. Azam alleged that Sub-Inspector (PSI) Santosh Pate had been driving the car that ran over his daughter. No seriousness was shown by the IO in investigating the case, he added.

Azam had then moved court, which in December 2020, observed several lapses in the probe and said more care should have been taken by the IO as allegations were against his colleague. The court then directed the Aurangabad Police chief to conduct an inquiry, who submitted his detailed report on January 2, 2021.

On March 19, the counsel for the police also submitted that the probe was handed over to the assistant commissioner of police and a chargesheet filed.

“We would have appreciated if the accused was immediately transferred out of the jurisdiction of the said police station. He continued to be a part of it until he subsequently got trapped in an anti-corruption bribery case in October 2020.”

The court said stopping increment of the IO for a year would not be sufficient, considering the “gravity” of his conduct. It added, “The court cannot be a silent spectator in such a case. We would fail in our duty if we blink at such a conduct of a police officer.”

The court asked the trial court to decide on prayer to arraign IO Khatane and other officials as accused in the case and disposed of the plea.

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