Posing tough queries to former Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh, the Bombay High Court asked why he did not file a First Information Report (FIR) against the alleged malpractices of state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh before bringing the matter to the courts, here on Wednesday.
Warning that the court could pull up Singh, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G. S. Kulkarni said that the police officer was failing in his duties if he didn’t lodge a FIR despite knowing that an offence was committed and “simply writing letters to the CM won’t do”.
“You are a Police Commissioner, why should the law be set aside for you Don’t view yourself so high the law is above you,” the CJ said, observing that it is in extremely rare cases that the court can order a FIR.
The court said that as a police officer, Singh was aware of the recourse to be adopted but still he did not lodge a complaint, since “a FIR is the first step into setting the criminal law into motion,” while reserving its orders in the matter.
The bench pointed out that (Singh) was a senior police officer and not a layman, so he was duty-bound to register a complaint against any wrongdoings, but despite knowing that an offence was being committed by his boss (Deshmukh), he remained silent.
“The appropriate course would have been to lodge a police complaint and if that was denied, you could have filed an application before a magistrate,” Chief Justice Datta said during a marathon full-day hearing.
The court said in the absence of a FIR, it cannot intervene or direct for an independent agency like the CBI to probe, in the hearing which included two other PILs and two complaints on the same issue.
Arguing for Singh, Senior Advocate Vikram Nankani contended that these allegations were coming from “one of the senior most officers of the (police) force” and these were informed to the Chief Minister and Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar.
He contended that it was in the high court’s powers to convert Singh’s letter into a petition and urged that the investigation into the allegations should be transferred out of the state (Maharashtra) to ensure “an independent and fair probe”.
Opposing the contentions, state Advocate-General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni representing the state, termed Singh as a ‘disgruntled litigant’, called the entire allegations of the extortion racket as a hearsay made out of ‘personal vendetta’ against Deshmukh, and argued that the plea itself was not maintainable, and it was affecting the morale of the entire force.
Additional Solicitor-General Anil Singh, representing the CBI, submitted that if the court pleases, the CBI is ready to carry out the investigations in the matter.
Among other things, in his petition, Singh has claimed that he was transferred on March 17 as Commandant-General of Home Guards after he exposed the alleged corrupt practices of Deshmukh.
The IPS officer detailed how the minister allegedly bypassed senior officers to call juniors like Sachin Vaze and asked them to ‘collect’ Rs.100-crore per month from bars, pubs and other sources.
He also claimed that Deshmukh allegedly put pressure on him to probe the role of certain Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and somehow implicate them in the suicide of Dadar & Nagar Haveli MP Mohan Delkar in Mumbai in Feb.
Singh further alleged how a former Commissioner, State Intelligence Department (SID) Rashmi Shukla had brought out the alleged irregularities in police department based on telephone tapping, etc.
He had moved the Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe into the issue and also challenged his transfer, but the apex court asked him to go to the Bombay HC.