In a big jolt to the Odisha government, the Supreme Court of India on Monday quashed its appeal challenging the high court order dismissing a vigilance case against the director general of CRPF and former Odisha director general of police Prakash Mishra.
The HC had quashed the vigilance case against Mishra over allegations of financial improprieties during his tenure as the chairperson and managing director of Odisha State Police Housing and Welfare Corporation (OSPHWC) between 2006 and 2009. The state government had moved the SC on August 13 challenging the high court's order through its lawyer Milind Kumar.
A bench of the apex court comprising justice J Chelemeswar and justice Abhay Manohar Sapre upheld the high court's order after hearing the petition.
"I am happy that I have been proved innocent again. I thank all who gave me moral support," said Mishra after the apex court order.
The Odisha government had lodged the vigilance case against Mishra in September 2014 when he was being considered for the post of director of CBI. Mishra, a 1977-batch IPS officer with an impeccable record, eventually lost out in the race for the CBI director's post despite being one of the seniormost contenders for it.
Mishra had challenged the registration of FIR against him in the high court.
Quashing the FIR against Mishra on June 19, the high court said, "There is no doubt that the vigilance authorities proceeded in the matter with a predetermined agenda to implicate the petitioner Sri Prakash Mishra, irrespective of whether any material is available to substantiate the allegations."
"The vigilance director's act of allowing the report of a sham inquiry to be accepted and giving his consent for seeking approval of the state government for registration of the criminal case against the petitioner shows that he was more concerned in exhibiting his loyalty to the ruling political establishment, akin to the old adage of more loyal than the king.”
The Odisha government had appointed Mishra as the DGP in July 2012 after bringing him in from central deputation at the height of Maoist insurgency in the state. Mishra was able to considerably rein in the Maoists during his two-year term.
In 2013, the state government had recommended Mishra's name for central deputation after his name was short-listed for a senior position in the CBI. On May 28 last year, however, the government withdrew its recommendation citing "shortage of police officers in the state at the director general level" as the reason.
But just six days later on June 5, Mishra was removed as director general of police and given the charge CMD at OSPHWC – a non-police cadre post perceived to be below his DGP ranking.
Police officials allege that Mishra was targeted because chief minister Naveen Patnaik was angry with him as he "refused to tow the Biju Janata Dal line" during the 2014 general elections. The ruling party leaders, however, refute the allegations.
Few weeks later, the state government let him go to join as a special secretary in the Union home ministry following Union home minister Rajnath Singh's intervention.