In a setback for controversial Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, the Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed his petition questioning the two enquiries ordered against him by the Maharashtra government. The bench held the petition as untenable and advised him to approach an appropriate forum.
A bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Nijamoodin Jamadar was seized with a plea filed by Singh challenging the enquiry claiming that it was nothing but a counterblast of his complaint letter against former home minister Anil Deshmukh.
The state had, however, argued that Singh shouldn't claim immunity in all cases against him just because he has written the letter and claims to be a "whistleblower."
"One of the enquiries pertain to the complaint filed by police inspector Anoop Dange, alleging corruption against Singh. It is being enquired by the DGP, Anti Corruption Bureau," senior counsel Darius Khambatta representing the state, had told the judges.
The senior advocate further added that the second enquiry pertains to Singh's misconduct which is being enquired into by the additional chief secretary (Planning).
"The grievances raised in this petition are squarely covered under the All India Service Conduct Rules, 1968, as this is purely a service matter. The appropriate forum to agitate for him is the Central Administrative Tribunal," Khambatta had argued.
Opposing the submission, senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani for Singh had claimed that the enquiries were just a vendetta. "This is nothing but a counterblast to my complaint against the then home minister. The state is trying to shoot the messenger and terrorise the whistleblower," Jethmalani argued, adding, "The state is trying to suppress a big crime and thus this enquiry against my client is only to thwart the probe ordered against Deshmukh."
Vehemently objecting to this contention, Khambatta had submitted, "Just because he (Singh) has written a letter making certain allegations doesn't immunise him. He cannot claim immunity citing this letter in every other case against him. He cannot use this defence everytime."
Khambatta had further clarified that the enquiry regarding corruption against Singh was based on complaint filed much prior to his letter.
"The complaint against him was filed on February 2, 2021, this is much before to the drama that unfolded later (Singh's letter written in March). Thus, it would be wrong to link the enquiry with his letter," Khambatta argued, adding, "The complaint reveals serious allegations against Singh. His misconduct makes out a cognizable offence. Instead, we should have been registering an FIR but we have only ordered preliminary enquiry."
Further, Jethmalani pointed out at the transcripts of the meeting between Singh and DGP Sanjay Pandey, wherein the latter allegedly advised him to withdraw his complaint letter against Deshmukh.
"It can be seen that Pandey assured my client that if he withdraws the complaint, he would help him to get out of these enquiries in bogus cases. He infact told him that if he won't take back all the allegations against Deshmukh, then my client would be booked in multiple bogus cases," Jethmalani said, adding, "And when I wasn't convinced by the DGP the state followed with its plan B to file bogus cases and threaten my client so that he withdraws the complaint letter."
Meanwhile, senior counsel Navroze Seervai for DGP Pandey had refuted the allegations. "This is just an attempt by a man trying to trap my client, who is an outstanding officer," the senior counsel argued.