Moving pieces

Controversy over police transfers is a subplot in the latest political storm

PTI03_23_2021_000124A Devendra Fadnavis | PTI

On March 24, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis claimed that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray sat on an “explosive” report on the issue of transfer of police officers, prepared by former commissioner of state intelligence Rashmi Shukla.

According to Fadnavis, Shukla had obtained permission to tap certain phone numbers. These numbers belonged to middlemen who secured postings for police inspectors and IPS officer alike. “The report was submitted by the commissioner of intelligence to Maharashtra director general of police Subodh Jaiswal on August 25, last year,” said Fadnavis. “The next day, the DG sent the report to Seetaram Kunte, additional chief secretary (home), and recommended that the report be brought to notice of the chief minister, and that a CID inquiry should be ordered. The chief minister was given a detailed briefing about it. He then sent the report to Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. No action has been taken on the report so far.”

Fadnavis also claimed that the MVA government, instead of taking action, blocked Shukla’s promotion and promoted officers junior to her. She was eventually promoted to the rank of director general of police for civil defence. “This post was specially created as it did not exist earlier,” stated Fadnavis.

Senior NCP cabinet minister Nawab Malik dismissed Fadnavis’s claims. “Shukla submitted a report on officers who were lobbying to get choice postings, but in reality, less than five per cent of them have been shifted,” said Malik. “There has been no corruption in this.” He also said that Shukla was illegally tapping phones since the formation of the MVA government.

But, senior police officers feel that deserving officers of high integrity often do not get key postings. “I get calls even in the matters of appointment of public prosecutors in routine cases, instructing me on whom to appoint and whom to avoid,” said a senior IPS officer who requested anonymity. “The personal secretary to the home minister, mentioned by Param Bir Singh in his letter, is known to throw his weight around and meddle with the workings of the police.” The officer also mentioned an incident where Rs2 crore was demanded from a lady police officer for a posting in Pune.