Court orders Maharashtra to appoint new ATS chief

MUMBAI - Irked over the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) continuing to remain headless more than seven months after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks when terrorists gunned down ATS chief Hemant Karkare, the Bombay High Court Thursday asked the Maharashtra government to appoint a new chief within a month.

The directive to the state government was given by a division bench comprising Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari.

Their order pulling up the state government came during the hearing of a set of public interest litigation cases when the court was informed that the ATS still lacked a full-fledged head after Karkare was killed by the terrorists Nov 27, 2008.

The judges also expressed their displeasure over the fact that several months after it was set up, the State Security Council had not made any recommendations concerning improvements in the state security set-up.

After Karkare’s death, the Additional Director-General of Police (Railways) K.P. Raghuvanshi was given additional charge of the squad. The post of ATS chief is equivalent to the rank of Special Inspector-General of Police or a Joint Police Commissioner.

The issue had also been raised this week in the Maharashtra legislature during a debate on the law and order situation in the state.

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Eknath Khadse had criticised the Democratic Front government for its failure to find a suitable officer to head the ATS. He claimed that at least six officers had been interviewed for the top post but they had allegedly declined to take up the assignment.

The Bombay High Court order comes before the impending tabling of the Ram Pradhan Committee which inquired into the 26/11 incidents and the action taken report (ATR) being prepared by another committee.


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