The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Maharashtra government to “completely stay its hand” against former Mumbai top cop Param Bir Singh, while it decides whether criminal cases registered against him could be handed over to the CBI.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.M. Sundresh expressed concern over the ongoing legal battle between Singh and the Maharashtra government, terming it a “messy state of affairs” and also a “very unfortunate situation”.
“We have had occasion to say earlier that it is a messy state of affairs. Very unfortunate situation… having the propensity of shaking the confidence of people in the police system and the elected system. Process of law must carry on…”
Former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, who was accused by Singh of corruption, is already under arrest for offences, including money laundering.
The top court also stayed all proceedings against Singh, probe and filing of charge sheet, and listed the case for final disposal on March 9 on the question of transfer of investigation of cases against Singh to the CBI.
The bench also asked the Maharashtra government to completely keep its hands off with regards to the ongoing investigation till the top court decides Singh’s plea to transfer all cases against him to the CBI.
Justice Kaul told senior advocate Darius Khambata, representing the Maharashtra government: “Meanwhile, you please completely stay your hand. We do not know if the investigation has to be transferred to the CBI…”.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the CBI, said all the FIRs must come to the central investigating agency. He added that there would be a possibility that statements may point to a particular direction or colour the case, making things difficult for the investigating agency.
The bench remarked that if it were to be inclined to pass an order of transferring the cases to the CBI, investigation being completed would cause problems. Khambata assured the bench that, in all senses, the matter will be on hold, and the court took it on record.
The bench noted: “We have now put down matter for final hearing and if we were to be inclined to pass an order as per what the CBI and petitioner says, investigation being completed would cause problems.”
Senior advocate Puneet Bali, representing Singh, complained against the Maharashtra government, saying that it has filed challans in one of the FIRs. “They have presented challan in one of the FIRs. This is absolutely going out of hand,” he said.
After hearing arguments, the bench said it will take a call as to whether the investigation is to be transferred to the CBI or not. Singh has claimed to be a whistle-blower in exposing the alleged wrongdoings of the former Home Minister. In November last year, the top court had granted him protection from arrest in the cases and directed him to cooperate in the investigations.
The bench was hearing a plea by Singh against the Bombay High Court judgment passed in September last year, dismissing his plea challenging the two inquiries ordered by the Home Ministry for allegedly violating service rules and corruption charges, as non-maintainable.