Police atrocity against magistrate opens can of worms

23rd Sept. 2000
The Times of India News Service

PANAJI: The case filed by a government officer against a police inspector before the court of law under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 on Wednesday, may prove to be an eye-opener for the entire state administration, since the petitioner was holding the quasi-judicial post of a deputy collector/sub divisional magistrate at Panaji. This is the first such case in the last decade.

D.H.Kenaudekar in his capacity as the sub-divisional magistrate walked into the police station last week to enquire why family members staying in his neighbourhood were picked up by the police at midnight and treated mercilessly. According to the petition, Inspector Mahesh Gaonkar not only ill-treated the magistrate, but insulted him and threatened to arrest him. To add insult to the injury, the coalition government headed by Chief Minister Francisco Sardinha transferred Kenaudekar from his post within 24 hours, while the police inspector denied allegations made by the sub-divisional magistrate.

Kenaudekar has taken shelter under Section 3 of the Scheduled Caste and Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, to tell the special judge designated to hear such cases that the Inspector used derogatory remarks abusing his caste.

As petitioner, the burden of proving the accusation lies on Kenaudekar, while the accused person (Inspector Mahesh Gaonkar) has to prove that he did not say it. A question arose whether the presence of Kenaudekar at the town police station was justified. Kenaudekar had identified himself and explained the cause of his visit after which the police should have handled the case cautiously. Senior advocates following this case say any citizen can go to the police station and question atrocities being committed against someone.

The family which was arrested at midnight was not surprised by the turn of events as they were reportedly among those who exposed the scandal of a local minister. They had also briefed their neighbour Kenaudekar about the possible attack.

Police stations in Goa are subjects of debate. It was reported that the minister's son was present at the police station around midnight when the family members were physically dragged into the station under custody. His presence also indicated that the minister who had tried to grab a piece of land reserved for a children's park was behind the move against the sub-divisional magistrate.

The case has taken the colour of discrimination against the Scheduled Caste. A group of SC workers told The Times of India that they would move the Union home ministry as well to get justice.

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