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Sheena case: Govt working to tie loose ends over Maria’s role

Rakesh Maria promoted as the Director General of Home Guards

Mumbai: Two days after he was shunted from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner, Rakesh Maria’s supervisory role in the Sheena Bora murder case remained clouded in uncertainty and the Maharashtra government was working on legal procedures to soon give him statutory powers.

In a surprise decision, Maria was on Tuesday promoted as DG (Home Guards) and senior DG-rank officer Javed Mumbai was made Mumbai Police chief, triggering speculation over the timing of the decision and the reasons behind it.

Marking a climbdown, the Home Department clarified on the same day that Maria will continue to supervise investigations in the Sheena Bora case in which he had played a key role right from the start and interrogated the accused and others in connection with the sensational case.

Though Maria had refrained from making any public comments on his involvement in the probe, local media have been rife with speculation that he is reluctant to monitor the investigation in the high profile case after taking over the new assignment.

According to the Home department, granting statutory status to Maria to carry forward investigation requires some procedural amendments and it would be finalised very soon.

“It is a legal process which would be completed very soon and our process is on,” Additional Chief Secretary (Home) K P Bakshi told PTI when asked who will head the probe and if Maria has been officially communicated about it.

Javed, on his part, declined to make any comments on the matter despite reporters persistently asking him who will head the probe.

He also parrieds question whether Peter Mukerjea, husband of Sheena Bora murder case accused Indrani Mukherjea, would be called for further interrogations.

Meanwhile, when asked about the procedural tangles involved in the issue, former IPS officer and lawyer Y P Singh said the DGP (Home Guards) is an ex-cadre post, which fell outside the police force of Maharashtra. “Therefore, in that position, Rakesh Maria does not have statutory police powers.”

“Under the provisions of section 36 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, only superior officers of police hold authority on statutory investigation within the specified local area for which they have been appointed. Such statutory investigation is being done in the Sheena Bora case under Chapter – XII of the CrPC,” he said.

Till the government does not issue a due notification conferring statutory jurisdiction of supervision to Maria and removing the jurisdiction of the present Commissioner Ahmed Javed, any supervision done by Maria, though an administrative arrangement would not be consistent with the law, Singh said.

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