5 April 2021 11:32 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court has observed that the allegations made by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh against the Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh are of a "serious nature", which warrant a preliminary enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation."Prima facie, the issues are such that the very faith of citizens in the functioning of the police department is at stake",...
The Bombay High Court has observed that the allegations made by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh against the Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh are of a "serious nature", which warrant a preliminary enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
"Prima facie, the issues are such that the very faith of citizens in the functioning of the police department is at stake", observed a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice GS Kulkarni, while disposing of PILs filed by Parambir Singh, Dr.Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil, Ghanshyam Upadhyay and Mohan Prabhakar Bhide.
"If there is any amount of truth in such allegations, certainly it has a direct effect on the citizens' confidence in the police machinery in the State. Such allegations, therefore, cannot remain unattended and are required to be looked into in the manner known to law when, prima facie, they indicate commission of a cognizable offence. It is, hence, certainly an issue of credibility of the State machinery, which would stare at the face when confronted with the expectations of the law and when such complaints are received against high ranking public officials", the bench added.
This Court said that it cannot be a "mere spectator in these circumstances".
The bench rejected the objections raised by the Advocate General of Maharashtra AG Kumbhakoni against the maintainability of the PILs seeking CBI investigation into the allegations raised by Parambir Singh against Deshmukh. The bench noted that one of the petitioners, Dr.Patil, had lodged a complaint before the police seeking action on the allegations made by Singh against the Home Minister. However, no legal action followed on Dr.Patil's complaint.
"The CrWP of Dr. Patil raises an important issue of lack of enforcement of law by the police", the bench observed. It further observed that the "frivolity" of the State's objections was exposed when it changed the track of its arguments to attack the petition on the ground of availability of alternate remedies, after the failure of its initial objection that the PILs were not preceded by the filing of a written complaint.
Since Dr. Patil has prayed for investigation into her complaint by the CBI, she could not have moved the Magistrate under Section 156(3), CrPC, the High Court noted. Only the High Court has the power to order CBI investigation. Dr. Patil had submitted her complaint to the Senior Police Inspector of the Malabar Hill Police Station on March 21, 2021;however, except for making an entry in the Inward Register, no action whatsoever, as the law would mandate, was initiated.
The bench said that the serious nature of the allegations and the issue of public faith in police machinery in the State justified the demand for CBI investigation.
"...it is indeed unheard of and unprecedented that a Minister could be so openly accused of wrongdoings and corrupt practices by none other than a senior police officer attracting wide attention from all and sundry".
"There is certainly a legitimate public expectation of a free, fair, honest and impartial inquiry and investigation into such allegations which have surfaced in the public domain. The necessity to have a probe into such allegations by an independent agency, would also certainly be a requirement of the rule of law. To instill public confidence and safeguard the Fundamental Rights of the citizens, it is necessary that an inquiry and investigation is conducted by an independent agency and for such reasons, we consider it to be in the paramount public interest that an independent probe in the present circumstances would meet the ends of justice"
"Here, Shri Deshmukh is the Home Minister. The police department is under his control and direction. There can be no fair, impartial, unbiased and untainted probe, if the same were entrusted to the State Police Force. As of necessity, the probe has to be entrusted to an independent agency like the CBI".
Constitution envisages rule of law and not rule of goons
The Court also made certain significant observations regarding rule of law.
"Rule of law, in terms of the Constitution, pervades over the entire field of administration and every organ of the State is regulated by it. In fact, what the Constitution envisages is a rule of law and not rule of goons having political support. An ordered polity within India to promote the integrity of the country and to enliven liberty, equality and fraternity, which Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was heard to say in the Constituent Assembly are not to be treated as separate entities but as a trinity, are the fundamental principles engrained in the Constitution. This trinity can be bypassed or overlooked only if the fabric of which the Constitution is woven be torn to pieces. Regrettably, for indolent State mechanisms and politicians, this can never happen for the courts shall not countenance violation of Constitutional principles by anyone, howsoever high an office he occupies,and hence while acting as the sentinel on the qui vive and being always there as a watch guard of the Constitution to repel any attack on it, the courts would ensure that the democratic values enshrined in the Constitution are respected and the ideals upheld"
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