16 Sep 2021 5:07 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed ex-Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh's plea challenging two enquiries initiated against him by the Maharashtra government concluding that it was not maintainable. A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar said in the Order that Mr Singh can approach the appropriate forums."The appropriate forum can decide the matter...
The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed ex-Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh's plea challenging two enquiries initiated against him by the Maharashtra government concluding that it was not maintainable.
A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar said in the Order that Mr Singh can approach the appropriate forums.
"The appropriate forum can decide the matter without prejudice to this order, the Court said
The Bench reserved its order on Singh's plea filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India on July, 28.
Singh challenged two enquiries orders issued by the State Home Ministry for allegedly violative service rules and the second over allegations of corruption.
The IPS officer called himself a whistle blower "who has tried to highlight corruption in the highest public office." Therefore the enquiries were malafide, meant to target and harass him.
He alleged that the enquiries dated April 1 2020, and April 20, 2021, were issued a month after he accused then Home Minister Anil Deshmukh of corruption, demanding Rs 100 crore extortion money from bar owners through dismissed cop Sachin Waze.
However, raising preliminary objections to his plea, the State contended the Central Administrative Tribunal was the appropriate forum for Singh's grievances as these were administrative enquiries related to his conduct when he was the commissioner.
In contrast, Singh claimed that these were not administrative enquiries but criminal enquiries as there was a reference to Section 32 of the CrPC. Therefore, his only remedy was before the High Court.
Senior Advocate Darius Khambata submitted that Singh's arguments on maintainability contradicted his own petition in which he accepts these are administrative enquiries.
Writing letters would not "immunise" Singh from an enquiry. Vendetta and malafide are very lofty words to call the enquiry vitiated, Khambata said.
Khambata relied on L Chandra Kumar's judgment, to submit, "The Supreme Court has categorically held that it will not be open for the litigants to approach the High Court by overlooking the jurisdiction of the Tribunal."
Additionally, he argued that Singh's primary grievance was with DGP Sanjay Pandey heading the enquiries. The issue was addressed as the officer had recused himself on April 30 2021, & on May 3 2021 the enquiry was assigned to 2 different officers, he said, adding, one went to the Director-General of the Anti Corruption Bureau & the other to Additional Chief Secretary Planning.
Pandey recused himself from the enquiries after Singh accused him of asking the latter to withdraw his letter against Deshmukh and attached specific phone recordings.
Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani vehemently defended Singh's petition without restricting himself to the maintainability of the plea. He said that enquiry was initiated by the State Home Department headed by none other than Anil Deshmukh, at the time.
He further said that the first inquiry into officer Anup Dange's complaint was a preliminary enquiry under the section 32 Criminal Procedure Code. "If this was an administrative enquiry, then there was no need to invoke section 32. This is not an administrative enquiry & the maintainability point of going to CAT does not arise. Both these enquiries are addressed under section 32 of CrPC. The 2nd one is by the Anti Corruption Bureau, so the Prevention of Corruption Act will apply. Therefore an investigation or any enquiry cannot start without prior approval."
Referring to Pandey's recusal from the enquiries, Jethmalani said, "The State Government thinks everyone is naive that they have now removed Sanjay Pandey. But Mr Sanjay Pandey was an emissary of the State Government. He was trying to cajole Mr Param Bir Singh into withdrawing his complaint. The DGP of Maharashtra was offering to mediate between the government & me."
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