The Bombay High Court has directed the State of Maharashtra to deposit Rs.60 lakh after concluding that the state has failed in discharging its responsibility in finding Gangadhar Patil, a man missing for the last 13 years.
A division bench of Justices TV Nalawade and KV Waldane at the Aurangabad bench was hearing a criminal writ petition filed by Patil’s wife.
Gangadhar was in the business of collecting cotton from farmers and selling it to a co-operative society running a spin yarn.
Gangakhed sitting MLA Vithal Gaikwad was the director of this society. An amount of Rs.53.58 lakhs was allegedly due from the society to Gangadhar in the year 2005. As Gangadhar was not getting his money from the society, he contacted accused no.7 Amrut Maharaj, who had an influence over Vithal Gaikwad.
Deceased Gangadhar had written letters that alleged that Gaikwad owed him the money, yet he created a false record and had started claiming that he has paid the amount. On May 20, 2005, Gangadhar left his house stating that he would meet Amrut Maharaj in order to secure what was owed to him.
However, Gangadhar has been untraceable since that day.
Upon his arrest, Amrut Maharaj had disclosed that he had taken Gangadhar near Gaikwad’s house but since Vithal Gaikwad was an MLA, he was never arrested. Gaikwad has since expired.
The letters written by Gangadhar disclose that Gaikwad had threatened to kill him and they were claiming that nothing was due from Gaikwad to Gangadhar.
A status report was submitted by the Sub-Divisional police officer, Degloor, on July 16, 2018. After perusing the report, the court said-
“This Court has carefully gone through the report. One thing is clear that the State has expressed its helplessness in tracing out the missing man. There is one thing which is clear that the investigating agency avoided to touch persons other than Amrut Maharaj. It appears that other persons, whose names are given in the report dated 13-7-2018, were not touched for the reasons best known to the investigating agency. It shows that, State avoided to take steps in the matter to trace out the missing man and there is failure of the State to discharge its duty.
Many times, this Court had asked State to file report with regard to the progress made and all the reports are considered by this Court. Time to time many orders were made by this Court on the basis of those reports with the hope that progress is made in the matter. But it appears that State did not care about the progress.
This Court has already made it clear that as the State has failed to discharge its responsibility the State will be required to deposit Rs.60 lakh in this Court. The amount is to be deposited within 30 days from today.”