HC fire singes Bidari

HC fire singes Bidari

In a major setback to the State government, the High Court on Friday upheld the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order and quashed the appointment of Shankar Mahadev Bidari as Director-General and Inspector General of Police (DG&IGP).

The court order will now clear the way for the appointment of Additional Director-General of Police A R Infant as DG&IGP on an ad hoc basis.

Hearing an appeal by the State government and Bidari challenging the CAT order, the Division Bench comprising Justices N Kumar and H S Kempanna upheld the tribunal’s direction. 

Justice Kumar held Bidari guilty of violation of human rights. The State government and Bidari were at the receiving end as the Bench strongly criticised the decision of appointing Bidari DG&IGP. The Bench cited human rights violations allegedly committed by the then Special Task Force (STF) commanded by Bidari in the early 1990s, during the force’s  anti-Veerappan operations. 

The Bench upheld Infant’s contention that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) report had pointed to the death of 66 people, including 36 killed in a suspicious manner and many of those innocent people were tribals, women and coolies.

Citing the NHRC report on two women, Erammal and Nagi, both victims of atrocities by STF, the Bench observed that the two women had held Bidari responsible for their fate. The government compensating them based on the NHRC report was sufficient evidence against him, the Bench ruled. 

The Bench observed: “The State and Bidari did not want the report to be placed before the UPSC. It is now clear why the Sadashiva Committee report has been kept under covers. The State says that Bidari has no role here. He was not indicted in the report 13 years ago.” 

Bidari’s biodata, which he had submitted to the government, had mentioned about his role in his three-and-a-half year stint in the STF and his efforts in reducing Veerappan’s band to a handful, from a strong force of 60 people. The biodata had also talked about the government reward of Rs 60 lakh to him along with a gallantry award. Referring to this biodata, the court said, “It is just a positive side of Bidari.

The State has failed to depict his other side on how he conducted the investigations. This being not placed before the selection committee, we find an error in it,” the Bench observed.

The affidavit that nailed the police chief

Erammal, a tribal woman, had stated in her affidavit dated January 28, 2000, that she was a widow without children. According to her, in 1996, Bidari came to her house and took her to meet her brother claiming he was in police custody. She alleged that she was taken to Dimbam police camp and caned due to which she lost sight in her right eye.

She was shifted to Mahadeshwara hill camp, where she was allegedly tortured, stripped naked, blindfolded and raped. She further said in her affidavit that she was given electric shocks for eight days. Later, Bidari arrived at the place and asked her to leave, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit of Nagi, a resident of Erode, states that six months after STF took away her husband, the police arrived at her house and promised to take her to her husband. She was taken to a camp in Male Mahadeswara hills where Bidari was present. She said she was blindfolded and Bidari interrogatated her about the supplies to Veerappan. When she denied the allegations, Bidari subjected her to shock treatment. She was gang-raped thereafter. Her elder sister, who had accompanied her was also raped.

Bidari worse than Saddam, Gaddafi

The petitioner, ADGP Infant, had talked about command responsibility during the hearing before CAT. In his affidavit before CAT, Bidari had stated that the command responsibility is not applicable to civilian operations.

According to Bidari, if the command responsibility has to be fixed, then it should be put on the other commanders Walter Davram and two ADGPs under whom he worked during that period. The DGP also stated that the then chief minister Veerappa Moily and other officers who worked under him should also be fixed with command responsibility.

In his affidavit, Bidari stated, “I was not omnipotent and omniscient like Commander Colonel Mohammed Gaddafi of Libya and President Saddam Hussain of Iraq.”

The Bench  said that if the allegations made by victims are looked into, then he is worse than them.

Referring to Bidari’s statement in the affidavit that he was not Gaddafi or Saddam Hussain, the court said “this shows his mindset. Such persons have no place in society. Unfortunately, this society has such people. It is worse that after 15 years of the incident, he refuses to own responsibility. Such people should not be here. The Justice Sadashiv Commission report has been hushed up deliberately because if it comes out, it will release more can(s) of worms.”

High Court’s observations

* On failing to table NHRC report before UPSC: The State should have ensured law and order and the interest of the people by placing the NHRC report before the selection committee. 

* On the hurried appointment: The chief minister indeed has absolute powers, but he should have exercised it with caution and cannot be irrational. He should be impartial. It appeared that the chief minister had no time to go through the recommendations made by the selection committee.

* On the State’s treatment of NHRC report on atrocities committed by STF: Bidari and the present government is not prepared to respect the report of the committee by NHRC. We are of the view that the NHRC report should have been placed before UPSC along with bio data and service records.

* On Bidari’s affidavit that he was unaware of the atrocities: Maybe the environment he worked in and the situation then might have resulted in the atrocities. But he does not even have the decency to say sorry.

* On the State’s memo seeking a stay on HC order: If the State has respect for the law, womanhood and human rights, tribals and socially backward communities, they should appoint ADGP Infant by replacing the respondent (Bidari). If you fail to do so, you (govt) are answerable to public.

 



 

 

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