Amitabh Thakur is a former 1992 batch Uttar Pradesh cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer and a social activist. He has served as a Superintendent of Police (SP) in ten districts of Uttar Pradesh, and as an Inspector General (IG) in the state’s Civil Defence department.
Amitabh Thakur was born at Muzaffarpur, Bihar. He was brought up in Bokaro and present-day Jharkhand (then a part of Bihar). He holds a B. Tech degree in mechanical engineering from IIT Kanpur. He also has a FPM (PhD) Degree from IIM Lucknow.
Thakur began his police career in 1992. He has worked in ten districts of Uttar Pradesh, as a Superintendent of Police (SP). He has worked in multiple departments including Intelligence, Vigilance, Anti-Corruption and Police Training Academy. Thakur was directly promoted from the rank of SP to Inspector General (IG), because his promotion as DIG had been held due to inquiries against him.
In 2005, Amitabh was suspended while posted as the superintendent of police (SP) at Gonda. He was accused of issuing an arms licence to criminals. He defended himself arguing that he only cleared the files that had been already vetted by other officers and the district administration.
In 2006, some criminals kidnapped a jeweller from Padam town, which comes under the purview of Jasrana police station. Accusing the police of slackness, the locals organised a protest and demanded action against the officer in-charge.
Thakur was the SP of Ferozabad at that time. In response to the protests, he transferred the Jasrana police station in-charge VK Trivedi, for dereliction of duty. Ramvir Singh Yadav, a Samajwadi Party leader and the MLA, asked Thakur to move Trivedi back to Jasrana. However, Thakur refused to oblige.
Some days later, Thakur came to Yadav’s native village Paidath, to review the security arrangements for a state minister’s visit to the village. There, Yadav and his supporters allegedly threatened and manhandled him over Trivedi’s transfer.
Seven constables deputed in the security of Yadav also supported Yadav, and threatened Thakur’s staff. Outnumbered, Thakur and his staff fled and stopped at the Eka police station to lodge an FIR. The officer in-charge there initially refused to lodge an FIR against the MLA, and relented after “much persuasion”.
Ramvir was cleared of any wrongdoing, after the witnesses against him backtracked.
2008 Case Against the State Government
In April 2008, Thakur was selected for the four-year Fellow Programme in Management (FPM) at IIM Lucknow. Between April 2008 and March 2009, he sent three letters to the state government’s Principal Secretary (Home) and the police DGP to grant him a study leave for the course.
After failing to receive a response, he approached the Lucknow Bench of Central Administrative Tribunal in April 2009. The Tribunal ordered the state government to make a decision on his leave request within two weeks. When the government still didn’t respond to his application, he filed a contempt petition with the Tribunal and also moved the High Court against the government.
In May 2009, the government issued a letter, rejecting Thakur’s request for study leave, on the basis that he had not sought permission from his immediate supervisor before opting for the course. The letter stated that the government would be able to grant him a leave for a maximum of one year. Thakur then again approached the Tribunal. Subsequently, the government sanctioned him a two-year leave.
In December 2014, Nutan Thakur filed a complaint against the state’s mining minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, before the Lok Ayukta (anti-corruption ombudsman). She alleged that the minister was involved in illegal mining activities. Thakur approached the Central Government, seeking protection for his family.
In January 2015, a woman filed a rape case against Amitabh Thakur, while he was posted as IG (Civil Defence). The woman alleged that Nutan Thakur promised her assistance in getting a government job, and asked her to come to the Thakurs’ residence in Gomti Nagar, where she was raped. The Thakurs dismissed the complaint as bogus, saying that it had been filed in response to Nutan’s complaint against the minister, and that the complainant was related to a Samajwadi Party leader.
In May 2015, an RTI activist Sanjay Sharma alleged that Thakur had amassed huge wealth, and sought a probe into the matter. He wrote to the state’s Governor Ram Naik, alleging that Thakur and his wife had ten properties in their names in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. These properties included a High Income Group (HIG) house in Viramkhand in Gomti Nagar, a plot in Khargapur, a 5000 square feet plot in Ujriyon, a house in Mujaffarpur, a house in Patna, a house in Sitamarhi, and agricultural land in Bihar. Sharma claimed that according to the couple’s official records, they earned about ₹ 288,000 lakh annually through these properties. He further alleged that after people raised questions about his properties, Thakur modified his statement of assets to conceal 8 of these properties. Governor Naik directed Thakur’s superior, the Director General of Civil defence, to probe these allegations. Thakur admitted that he and his wife held these properties, some of them ancestral. But he denied any wrongdoing or attempts to conceal these properties. He stated that he was open to “any kind of vigilance or CBI inquiry” into his properties.
On 11 July 2015, Thakur lodged an FIR against the state’s former Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav. He alleged that Yadav had threatened him over a phone call. He released the audio of the phone call, in which Yadav is allegedly heard saying the following sentences:
- “You were very insolent…Everyone took you inside the school and wanted to beat you. I was the one who saved you.” (referring to the incident in which Thakur was manhandled by Jasrana MLA Ramveer Singh Yadav)
- “There could be more dire consequences, I am telling you. I went to Patna where your family members requested me to help and save you.”
- “I am telling you, aap sudhar jaaiye (mend your ways). This is all I want to say.”
Thakur alleged that Mulayam Singh was unhappy about the complaint lodged by his wife Nutan against the state minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati.
On 12 July, a rape case was registered against Thakur by the Lucknow police, based on the complaint filed in January. On 13 July, the state government suspended Thakur, accusing him of “indiscipline, holding anti-government views, dereliction of duty and violating service rules”. The government also alleged that he had misused government resources and given incomplete information about his assets in his annual declaration of property.
Amitabh Thakur is the founder of the National RTI Forum, a grassroots anti-corruption organisation in India that advocates for government openness under the terms of the 2005 Right to Information Act. The organisation is based in Lucknow.
Thakur has formed Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences (IRDS), a human rights organisation. He recorded the dying declaration of journalist Jagendra Singh; the video allegedly indicated the involvement of a state’s minister in Singh’s death.
In January 2011, Thakur filed an FIR against Facebook and some of its users, for offensive comments against Mahatma Gandhi in a Facebook group called “I hate Gandhi”. Facebook banned the group a couple of days later.
Amitabh Thakur and his wife Nutan have filed over 500 RTI applications and 150 Public Interest Litigations (PILs). A number of PILs filed by the Thakurs resulted in action, but many were rejected by the courts as “frivolous”.
For example, in 2011, the Thakurs filed PIL seeking a ban on the songs Munni Badnaam Hui and Sheila Ki Jawani. The PIL claimed that the songs were against “public decency and morality”, violated provisions of the Cinematography Act 1952, and had resulted in cases of eve teasing. The Thakurs’ counsel Asok Pande was fined ₹ 200,000 twice for frivolous PILs. In 2014, the Allahabad High Court declared them to be “chronic petitioners”.
In April 2014, the High Court directed its registry not to accept any PIL from Amitabh Thakur. The court stated that, as a government servant, he needed to obtain a permission from the state government for filing PILs. His wife Nutan was also ordered to deposit ₹ 25,000 every time she filed a PIL; the deposit would be returned if the court found the PIL was about a genuine public cause, else the money would be forfeited. The court said that this was necessary to deter frivolous petitions which waste the court’s time and money. Nutan Thakur moved to the Supreme Court, which upheld the High Court’s order.
As a Writer
Thakur has co-authored two books, and has compiled two collections of poems. He and his wife are working on a book on Arvind Kejriwal. His book Fresh Brew – Chronicles of Business and Freedom, co-authored with Amit Haralalka, traces the careers of 25 IIM Lucknow alumni who turned entrepreneurs.
Amitabh Thakur is married to Nutan Thakur. The couple has two children – a daughter named Tanaya and a son named Aditya, both law students.