Rashmi Shukla, who beat the odds — and political events — to become top cop | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Rashmi Shukla, who beat the odds — and political events — to become top cop

Jan 08, 2024 12:45 PM IST

In 2021-22, the Maharashtra DG-IGP was named in two FIRs and moved court to quash a third FIR. A look at the twists and turns in Rashmi Shukla’s career

Three days after empanelment committee of the Union Public Service Commission recommended three names — Rashmi Shukla, Mumbai police commissioner Vivek Phansalkar and Police Housing Corporation chief Sandeep Bishnoi — for the post of Maharashtra police chief, the state government appointed Shukla as the next Director General and Inspector General of Police (DG-IGP), Maharashtra.

Rshmi Shukla’s journey to the top post was filled with twists and turns. (Pratham Gokhale/HT) PREMIUM
Rshmi Shukla’s journey to the top post was filled with twists and turns. (Pratham Gokhale/HT)

The 59-year-old IPS officer of the 1988 batch will get six months in the post before she retires on June 30.

Shukla’s journey to the top post was filled with twists and turns. Known to be close to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds the home portfolio in the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena-BJP-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government, Shukla has served as Commissioner of Police, Pune, and Commissioner, State Intelligence Department (SID) between 2014 and 2019 — when Fadnavis was CM.

Her fortunes changed when, after the 2019 assembly elections, the political dispensation in Maharashtra changed and the Thackeray-led Shiv Sena broke off their political alliance with the BJP to join hands with the NCP and the Congress to form a government under Uddhav Thackeray. Fadnavis became the Leader of the Opposition.

Trouble started brewing for Shukla after Fadnavis held a press conference in March 2021 to highlight the alleged corruption in postings and transfers of senior police officers in the state. In support of his claim, the BJP leader purportedly used a report prepared by Shukla in August 2020 when she worked as SID Commissioner. The report named political heavyweights including the then-home minister Anil Deshmukh of the NCP, as well as a political leader popularly known as “dada” apart from some private individuals who acted as conduits between police officers and politicians.

On March 26, 2021, an FIR was registered against unknown persons at the Cyber police station in Mumbai for the leaking of this confidential report. Shukla was unceremoniously shunted out of the SID and posted as DG, Civil Defence — a post created by abruptly splitting the post of DG, Home Guards and Civil Defence. According to Shukla, the DG, Civil Defence did not even have a chair and table to function from at the time.

A few months later, allegations of illegal telephone tapping by Shukla — while she was Pune police commissioner and in the capacity of Commissioner, SID — surfaced and in July 2021, the state government formed a three-member committee to enquire into the alleged illegal phone tapping between 2016 and 2019.

It turned out that the alleged illegal phone-tapping exercise was carried out when she was Commissioner of Police, Pune between March 31, 2016 and August 3, 2018, and later, when she held the post of SID Commissioner from October 11, 2018, to September 3, 2020.

On February 25, 2022, an FIR was registered by the Bund Garden police in Pune against Shukla for allegedly illegally tapping the mobile phones of Congress leader Nana Patole and independent Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Kakade, who later joined the BJP between 2017 and 2018, by obtaining permission to tap their phones claiming those belonged to some suspected drug dealers.

A week later, on March 2, another FIR was registered against her at Colaba police station for allegedly tapping mobiles of Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut and NCP leader Eknath Khadse in 2019 — when the Shiv Sena was in talks with the NCP and the Congress to form a government in Maharashtra.

Sensing legal trouble, Shukla opted for central deputation and was soon posted as additional director general of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Hyderabad. She later went on to become DG, Sashastra Sena Bal and continued to hold the post till she was appointed as Maharashtra police chief.

Though she was not named in the Mumbai Cyber police case, Shukla filed a writ petition before the Bombay high court to quash the FIR. However, on December 15, 2021, the high court dismissed her petition, mainly because she had not been named in the FIR.

Shukla filed separate petitions for quashing the FIRs registered against her Bund Garden and the Colaba police stations and secured protection from arrest from high court. However, she was questioned by the Colaba police in March 2022.

Another political upheaval

In June of that year, Eknath Shinde led a revolt against Uddhav Thackeray and eventually joined hands with the BJP. He became the chief minister and Fadnavis, deputy CM. In August 2023 Shukla was empaneled for the post of state police chief. The UPSC, however, raised queries and sent her file back twice to the state government.

In the meantime, the Pune police filed a closure report in the case registered against her and the state government handed over the Cyber police case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). On August 9, the Bombay high court struck down both the illegal telephone tapping cases against Shukla after the court was informed that the state government had refused sanction to prosecute the IPS officer in the Colaba case and the Pune police had already filed a closure report.

Eventually, the CBI also filed a closure report in the report leak case and the closure was approved by the Esplanade metropolitan magistrate court on August 25, 2023, as the CBI failed to establish “from where, by whom and when the documents in question (report) were handed over to Shri Devendra Fadanvis,” and thus paved the way for Shukla to be appointed as the first woman police chief of Maharashtra.

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    Special Correspondent. I have spent over a decade covering courts in Mumbai, primarily the Bombay High Court, and including several important trials like trial of 120 accused in March 1993 Mumbai bombings, 26/11 case - trial of Ajmal Kasab.

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