The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday sought response from the government on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by ex-IPS officer Rahul Sharma, challenging the contractual appointment of two retired police officers — N K Amin and Tarun Barot — who are accused in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case.
Seeking quashing of the appointment orders, the PIL said that “such appointments orders send visibly wrong signals as they encourage police officers to break the law and expect a reward for the same. The rule of law becomes ineffective and the officers feel emboldened to break the law in anticipation of political patronage. Such reappointments set a bad precedent…”
Following a brief hearing, a division bench led by Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy asked government pleader Manisha Luvkumar to seek instructions from the government, while refusing to entertain request of the petitioner to grant interim stay on the appointments.
Tarun Barot was appointed as DySP, Headquarters, Western Railway, Vadodara, on a year’s contract on October 13, while NK Amin, who was slated to retire on August 31, was awarded a year extension on contractual basis on the same post as Mahisagar district SP. While both the officials are co-accused in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, Barot is also char-gesheeted in the Sadiq Jamal Mehtar encounter case. Amin was discharged from the Sohra-buddin Sheikh encounter case.
Appearing for Sharma, senior lawyer I H Syed argued that the appointment of these two officers was illegal as the circulars issued by the state government in this regard have not been framed under the Gujarat Police Act, 2007, that governs the recruitments and other service condition of police officers in Gujarat.
The PIL said that there was no provision in the Gujarat Police Act, 2007, for the appointment or reappointment of a common man as a police officer even to the rank of a constable, let alone to the rank of SP or DySP, without following the due procedure prescribed under the recruitment rules. It said that Amin and Barot became “common man” after they retired from the service.
On the reappointment of Amin, the plea said: “Since there is no such rule for direct appointment to the post of SP, the prescribed procedure cannot be circumvented by reappointing a person directly to the post of Superintendent of Police. It is a well settled law that what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly.”
It argued that even if the circulars, under which reappointments have been made, were applicable to the police force in Gujarat, the reappointments were contrary to the basic principles. It said that there are sufficient number of officers, who are qualified and waiting for promotion. Despite this, the state government reappointed Amin and Barot to their respective posts in “gross violation of the relevant rules framed in this regard”.