Param Bir Singh’s plea to quash probe by Maharashtra govt dismissed by HC
The Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday dismissed the petition filed by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh seeking the quashing of the two preliminary inquiries initiated against him by the Maharashtra government.
HC held that the petition was “not maintainable” and directed Singh to approach the appropriate forum, which is the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).
On July 28, the division bench of justice SS Shinde and justice NJ Jamadar had reserved its order in the petitions filed by Singh, requesting that the preliminary inquiry initiated against him by the home department pertaining to violation of service rules in light of the Antilia explosives scare case and on allegations of corruption levelled against him by an inspector, Anup Dange.
In his petition, Singh had claimed that the two inquiries were initiated against him as he had accused former state home minister Anil Deshmukh of directing dismissed police officer Sachin Vaze – now arrested in the Antilia and Mansukh Hiran murder cases – to collect money worth ₹100 crore. Singh had stated that the home department resorted to a witch hunt after he refused to withdraw the letter that he had written to chief minister (CM) Uddhav Thackeray, alleging Deshmukh of corruption.
Singh had further alleged in his petition that there was an attempt by the state government to hinder the HC-ordered Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the allegations against Deshmukh.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, who appeared for Singh, had argued that the inquiries were initiated hastily with vendetta and there was an attempt to punish the former police chief, who had blown the whistle on Deshmukh.
“It is obvious from the circumstances that it was issued out of confusion and vendetta. Singh complained against Deshmukh and instead of inquiring into it, the state punished the whistleblower... They are trying to shoot the messenger,” Jethmalani said, adding that the inquiries were arbitrary and against the law.
Jethmalani also submitted that after Singh refused to abide by director general of police (DGP) Sanjay Pandey’s suggestion to withdraw his letter to CM, corruption and other cases were registered against him by the state government.
However, senior advocate Darius Khambata for the state had questioned the maintainability of the petition as the inquiries came under the purview of the All India Service Rules and as CAT dealt with such issues, Singh’s petition could not be entertained.
While responding to Singh’s allegation of vendetta by the state, Khambata had submitted that the complaint by Dange was lodged in February, even before Singh’s letter to CM on March 20.
Senior counsel Navroz Seervai, representing DGP Pandey, had adopted the arguments of the state and said that allegations made by Singh against his client were “frivolous and false” and hence, the petition was not maintainable.
After hearing the arguments, Justice Jamadar, who had authored the ruling for the bench, noted that particular grievances made by Singh can only be termed as “barnacles attached to the hull of controversy”.
HC said that the challenge of entrusting the inquiries to officers, allegedly junior in rank to Singh, can be raised before the CAT.
It also observed that Singh’s claim that the state action was initiated as “counter-blast” to the outcome of his petitions in HC against Deshmukh “prima facie does not hold ground” as Dange had written to the state home department with his allegations in February, much before Singh’s wrote to the CM on March 20 regarding Deshmukh.