IPS officer Khalid suspended for allowing 'killer' Mumbai hoarding sans DGP office nod

View of the site of the hoarding collapse, that is being cooled by the fire brigade personnel at Ghatkopar, in Mumbai, Tuesday, May 14, 2024.
View of the site of the hoarding collapse, that is being cooled by the fire brigade personnel at Ghatkopar, in Mumbai, Tuesday, May 14, 2024.

Mumbai | The Maharashtra Government on Tuesday suspended IPS officer Quaiser Khalid for allowing a giant hoarding -- whose collapse last month claimed 17 lives -- on Railway land without the approval of the DGP office and cited administrative lapses and irregularities on his part in sanctioning the billboard, an official said.

The 140×120 ft hoarding in Mumbai's Ghatkopar area crashed onto a petrol pump on May 13 during gusty winds and unseasonal rains.

The state home department issued the suspension order of Khalid, currently posted as Additional Director General of Police or ADG (Protection of Civil Rights), said the official.

The 1997-batch IPS officer was the Government Railway Police Commissioner in Mumbai when he gave the nod for installing the giant hoarding on a piece of GRP land in Ghatkopar (East) to an advertisement firm, Ego Media Pvt Ltd, without following the tendering process, the order said.

According to the suspension order, a preliminary inquiry was conducted into the hoarding collapse and its report, submitted by the Maharashtra Director General of Police (DGP) on May 21 to the home department, found gross irregularities and administrative lapses in sanctioning the billboard.

The government has decided to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Khalid in respect of administrative lapses and irregularities in sanctioning the hoarding without the approval of the DGP office, according to the order.

The senior IPS officer misused his powers by allowing a massive hoarding with a size of 120x140 square feet to come up at the GRP land and in the process deviated from the approved norms as pointed out in the probe report, it said.

The government was satisfied that it was necessary and desirable to place IPS officer Quaiser Khalid under suspension in accordance with provisions of rule 3 (1) of the All India Services ( Discipline and Appeal ) Rules, according to the order.

Accordingly, the government has placed the ADG-rank officer under suspension until further orders.

During the suspension period, the headquarters of Khalid shall be the DGP office in Mumbai. He shall not leave the headquarters without obtaining the DGP's permission and is barred from accepting any private employment or engage in any other trade or business during the suspension period, maintained the order.

A special investigation team (SIT) of the Mumbai police, probing the hoarding crash case, has arrested Bhavesh Bhinde, owner of Ego Media, the company's then-director Janhavi Marathe, her associate, and structural engineer Manoj Sanghu, who had issued a stability certificate for the hoarding.

The suspension comes amid reports of Mumbai police probing a series of money transactions allegedly linking the company that owned the hoarding, and a business associate of the wife of the IPS officer.

BJP leader Kirit Somaiya on Sunday alleged that ad firm director Bhinde had paid Rs 46 lakh as bribe to a company of the wife of Khalid.

Somaiya, in a series of post on X, also claimed Rs 5 crore was paid by Ego Media to Railway police and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials for “two dozen illegal hoardings” in Ghatkopar and Dadar areas of Mumbai.

“Ghatkopar Hoardings Tragedy. Proof & Bank Entries of ₹46 lacs Bribes detected by Police SIT. Bhavesh Bhinde paid ₹46 lacs to Kaiser Khalid (Railway Police Commissioner) via Mohammad Arshad Khan. Mohammad Arshad Khan deposited this ₹46 lacs in Mahapatra Garments Pvt Ltd,” Somaiya claimed in one of the posts.

The former MP said Mahapara Garments Pvt Ltd was incorporated/formed on June 20, 2022, by Summana Quaiser Khalid, the wife of IPS officer Khalid, and Khan.

Khan has been questioned once by the SIT in the past over monetary transactions and summoned again, police officials said.

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