SC Asks Param Bir to Withdraw Plea Against Deshmukh, Approach HC

‘It is unfortunate that Supreme Court’s judgment on police reform has not been implemented,’ the court said.

3 min read
Param Bir Singh  had sought a CBI investigation into the alleged corrupt practices by State HM Deshmukh.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 24 March, asked former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh to withdraw his plea against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, and asked him to approach the Bombay High Court instead.

Singh had sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigation into the alleged corrupt practices by Deshmukh and also challenged his transfer order in the plea.

While hearing the case, the bench comprising of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Subhash Reddy observed that the allegations levelled by Singh are serious and asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Singh, why the Bombay High Court wasn’t approached to demand for a CBI probe.

“We have no doubt that the matter is quite serious and affects the administration at large. It also appears that a lot of material which has come in public domain is a consequence of the personas falling out,” the court said in its order.

“This entire state is rocked. Police reforms have not taken place. A police commissioner of transferred on administrative grounds but the home minister says on TV that it was not administrative ground,” Rohatgi said while arguing for Singh.

“It is unfortunate that Supreme Court’s judgment on police reform has not been implemented,” the court said, adding that the issue of police reforms comes up only when a political situation explodes.

Key Observations By the Supreme Court

  • The court pointed out that Deshmukh has not been impleaded as a respondent, following which, him and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) were impleaded as respondents.
  • The court asked why the petition wasn’t filed under Article 226 of the Constitution before the Bombay High Court. It said that the demand for investigation by an independent agency could also be granted by the HC.
  • Referring to the alleged ‘transfer racket,’ the court said that there have been subsequent developments in the matter as has been noticed in terms of the report of Rashmi Shukla, Commissioner, State Intelligence Department and that the high court has the requisite authority to address the same.
  • Expressing regret over protocols not being followed in police postings as per orders by the Supreme Court, the bench said that “the directions were based on the principle of insulating police machinery from political/executive interference to make it more efficient and to strengthen the rule of law.”
  • The apex court said that none wanted to give up the control of police transfers or implement measures that would insulate the police machinery from performing its role without any uncalled for interference.

Why Singh Approached SC

Singh, on Monday, had filed a petition before the apex court against his transfer to the Home Guard Department by the Maharashtra government in the backdrop of the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare case and his alleged proximity with former API Sachin Vaze, who was arrested in the case.

Singh, in the plea, had also demanded a probe by the CBI into the alleged malpractices by Deshmukh. 

Singh has alleged that the state home minister in February held several meetings with junior police officers, including Vaze, and gave them a target of Rs 100 crore to be collected from bars, pubs and other establishments.

Other Key Highlights of Singh’s Plea

  • Singh claimed that he was being pressurised by Deshmukh to probe and implicate certain BJP leaders in the suicide of MP Mohan Delkar in Mumbai and give the death a political angle.
  • Singh, in the petition, alleged that one Rashmi Shukla, the Commissioner Intelligence, in August 2020, had brought to the notice of the Director-General of Police the alleged corrupt malpractices in postings and transfers by Deshmukh, based on telephonic interceptions. However, she was shunted rather than taking any firm action against Deshmukh.
  • Singh has accused Deshmukh of interfering in various investigations and instructing police officers to conduct probes in a particular manner as desired by him.
  • Singh alleged that he was transferred only after he brought the alleged corrupt practices of Deshmukh to the knowledge of senior leaders, including Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

What the MVA Says on Singh’s Allegations

The petition by Singh came as the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state is being pressurised by the Opposition’s demand for Deshmukh’s resignation.

Meanwhile, Deshmukh and the MVA have refuted the allegations levelled by Singh and called it a conspiracy to derail the probe and destabilise the state government at the behest of the BJP.

Singh had also written a letter to Maharashtra CM Thackeray and Governor Koshyari on 20 March, detailing the allegations which he has mentioned in the petition as well.

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