Published On : Fri, Feb 3rd, 2017

VCA Controversy : HC terms demand of free passes by cops as extortion

Nagpur: The second T20 match between India and England, which led to India’s win was over since long but the controversy surrounding it is only getting deeper. As it turned out that Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) did not take the police permission for the match which was interestingly provided security by the police itself, the cops jumped to file an FIR against VCA administrative authority. But the story did not end here. Now the High Court has pulled up Nagpur cops who allegedly demanded free passes from VCA for the match.

Terming it “extortion”, a bench of Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indira Jain directed the petitioner to add the six senior officials as respondents by name who include DCP Zone I Deepali Masirkar, DCP (Crime) Ranjan Kumar Sharma, DCP Abhinash Kumar, and DCP Sambhaji Jadhav, DCP (traffic) Smartana Patil, and DCP (HQ) Suhas Bavche. VCA also told the court that other senior officials entered corporate box with their guests without tickets. It included five DCPs and one senior inspector, whose CCTV grabs were submitted by the VCA in the court. DCP Sharma, DCP (EOW) Ishu Sindhu, DCP Kumar, DCP Patil, and MIDC PI Sunil Mahadik are visible in the photographs and video clips submitted by the VCA.

While observing that FIR lodged by the Hingna cops was “abuse of process of law”, the judges directed government pleader Bharti Dangre to issue notices to respondents, including DCPs, individually and asked them to file a reply within a week.

“This is glaring example of how police machinery is abusing power. We fail to understand how the security would be controlled when the senior cops were sitting in the air-conditioned boxes and if any incident happened outside. Were they providing security or watching the match,” the judges asked.

They directed police commissioner K Venkatesh to take this incident seriously and act against the erring officials, or else court will act. “Specific averments were made against senior officials. It is a sorry state of affairs. Cops are there for maintaining law and order and providing security. If they indulge in such things, where will the common citizens go,” the judges added.

While restraining the police from taking any coercive action against VCA officials, including its President Anand Jaiswal, the court directed them to investigate into the FIR registered against VCA and find out discrepancies like cracks in the stadium and lack of fire escape.

VCA officials were advised to stop granting free passes to anyone. However, senior counsel Sunil Manohar and Akshay Naik, appearing for VCA, informed that no match would take place if they stopped giving out free passes. “We will direct you not to give complimentary passes to anyone except cricket players. This is extortion,” the judges responded.

The court’s strictures came while hearing an affidavit filed by Jaiswal, accusing the Nagpur Police of allegedly threatening the VCA office-bearers for failure to handover 500 complimentary passes. He made a slew of shocking allegations against the senior cops for watching the match without tickets with their guests and also enjoyed VCA’s hospitality. He said the officers watched match from corporate box and also from the CCTV room, which was a sensitive place. The petitioner specifically named DCP Zone-I Deepali Masirkar and Sharma for allegedly pressuring them for the free passes and also threatening them. Even CP endorsed their demand stating that DCP’s were dissatisfied with low number of passes.

The VCA had dispatched 217 passes to the police, but they were returned with demand that at least 500 VIP passes were needed. After VCA refused, two complaints were lodged against VCA’s office-bearers under Sections 188 (Disobeying orders of a public authority) and 336 (Endangering life of others) of IPC and 131A and 135 of Bombay Police Act. The second complaint was lodged by Jamtha Gram Panchayat’s deputy Sarpanch for alleged noise pollution under Section 15(1) of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and Rule 5(1)(20 and 7(2) of Noise Pollution Rules.