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SP, magistrate face music in Facebook case

Mumbai, Nov 27, 2012, DHNS: 1:35 IST
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The Maharashtra government on Tuesday announced the suspension of two police officers and transfer of a magistrate involved in the arrest of two Palghar girls for posting comments on Facebook.

The SP (Thane-Rural) and Palghar police station in-charge were placed under suspension, with the Registrar of Bombay High Court transferring the magistrate, who had ordered judicial custody for the two collegians, before releasing them on bail.

On November 18, two college going girls from Palghar, 104 km from Mumbai, in early twenties—Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan—were taken into custody as the former had posted a comment on a social networking site remarking: “We should remember Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev—the martyrs of India’s independence instead of closing down the city due to the death of Thackeray.”

Shaheen’s friend Reenu responded with a “Like” post.
A complaint by a local Shiv Sena partyman at Palghar taluka was taken seriously by the police officers, who began interrogating the two girls even as a mob led by party workers vandalised an orthopaedic clinic belonging to Dhada’s uncle in the town on Sunday night.
The next day, the Palghar police picked the two girls and charged them under Section 505 (2) (creating public enmity) and 295 (a) (hurting religious sentiments) of IPC and Section 64 (a) of the Information Technology Act 2000.

Giving details of the action taken report in the matter, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil said : “Based on the report submitted by the Inspector General of Konkan Range (Sukhvinder Singh), it has been decided that Superintendent of Police (Thane Rural) Ravindra Sengaonkar be suspended and a departmental probe be ordered against him.

Similarly, the Palghar police station in-charge Shrikant Pingle would also be suspended pending a departmental inquiry. The magistrate, Ramchandra Bagade, has also been transferred from Palghar to Jalgaon. However, that has been done by the registrar of the high court. So I cannot comment on it.”

However, Patil cautioned that the decision “does not mean that social networking sites can be used to post anything.”

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