Why didn't you approach police against Anil Deshmukh? HC asks Param Bir Singh

The HC was hearing criminal public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the HC on March 25 by Singh, seeking a CBI probe against Deshmukh
Last Updated 31 March 2021, 16:29 IST

Pulling up former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh, the Bombay High Court wanted to know why he did not file a police complaint against Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.

A division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice GS Kulkarni pointed out that as a police officer he is aware of the legal course to be followed but still he did not file a complaint.

“The FIR is the first step into setting the criminal law into motion,” the court said.

Earlier this month, Singh, in a complaint addressed to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray with a copy to governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had alleged that Deshmukh was demanding Rs 100 crore per month from assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze.

Thereafter, he moved the Supreme Court for a CBI probe into the issue and also challenged his transfer as commandant general of Home Guards, however, he was asked to move to Bombay High Court, which he did subsequently.

"You (Singh) are a senior police officer. You are not a layman. You were duty-bound to register a complaint against any wrongdoing. Despite knowing that an offence is being committed by your boss (Deshmukh), you remained silent the appropriate course of action 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.

After a full-day hearing, the bench has reserved the order on Singh’s plea.

“In the absence of an FIR the high court cannot intervene or direct for an independent agency like the CBI to carry out an investigation,” the court pointed out while hearing arguments on the criminal PIL.

Besides Singh’s criminal PIL, there were two other PILs and two complaints on the same issue, however, the court has reserved its order on maintainability.

Singh's counsel Vikram Nankani said that his client wanted to avoid this "chakravyuh", however, chief justice Datta reacted sharply, "Are you saying that you are above the law?.”

Nankani said that he did not have any other option as the complaint and allegations were against the "very head of the state administration".

State’s advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni described Singh as a ‘disgruntled litigant’ and called the entire allegations of the extortion racket as hearsay made out of ‘personal vendetta’ against Deshmukh.

“The plea itself was not maintainable, and it was affecting the morale of the entire force,” he said.

Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, appearing on behalf of the CBI, said submitted that the agency is ready to look into the allegations, considering their seriousness, if the high court deems fit. “If the court pleases, we are ready to carry out investigations,” he said.

(Published 31 March 2021, 09:50 IST)

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