Former Gujarat DGP Julio Ribeiro has moved the Supreme Court against a Gujarat High Court order, dismissing his petition challenging the elevation of DGP P P Pandey as in-charge police chief of the state. The High Court had in August dismissed the petition on the ground that Pandey has been given additional charge “as a stop-gap arrangement” after his predecessor DGP P C Thakur was transferred to Delhi. Thakur’s Delhi appointment, however, stands cancelled and he awaits a posting.
Sources said that the PIL is likely to come up for the hearing this month in the apex court. Former IPS-turned-lawyer Rahul Sharma who represented Ribeiro in the High Court confirmed that a petition against the HC order has been filed in the SC. Ribeiro had moved the HC against Pandey’s elevation, saying that “such an additional charge is against the doctrine of public trust, is against the law and the express guidelines of the Supreme Court”.
The petition stated that, “…the police force of a state can’t be headed by a person accused of extremely serious offence of murder of four persons, especially, when the trials are yet to begin. In a sense, such an appointment is itself a breach of law, being arbitrary and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.” Pandey is one of the seven chargesheeted police officers in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. Pandey is currently out on bail. The High Court, while dismissing Ribeiro’s petition, had stated that Pandey’s bail, his reinstatement and promotion to DGP were never challenged.
“At no point of time, such orders were under challenge. In absence of challenge to such orders and further in view of the fact that no allegations are made against the 2nd respondent (Pandey) about his interference by way of tampering with evidence in connection with the case registered against him, the allegations made against the 2nd respondent cannot be accepted to find fault with the impugned notification/order which is merely an order for additional charge and that too, it is given temporarily,” a division bench led by Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy had stated in the order. The court had also said that “we make it clear that when the regular appointment to the post of Director General and Inspector General of Police, Gujarat State is made, the same shall be made by following the directions issued by the Supreme Court in the case of Prakash Singh (supra).” On the other hand, a tug of war between Pandey’s predecessor Thakur and the government has started brewing.
Thakur has been awaiting posting after his appointment as Director General, Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards, New Delhi, was cancelled in September. It is learnt that Thakur has not withdrawn his salary from April till November. He was removed abruptly from the post in April and was asked to go to Delhi. However, he went on sick leave, citing ill-health of his wife, who passed away a few months later. The central government issued repatriation order in September, but he has not resumed the duty yet. Thakur refused to comment on the issue, but senior IPS officers said that he has sent a letter to the state government, seeking his “posting with honour” before he retires on December 31. Officers said that “Thakur wishes to be posted again as main DGP which the government is opposing. Giving any post other than main DGP would be like downgrading his post”.
A senior officer in the home department said that he received Thakur’s representation only two days ago. “Unless he reports back to us how can we post him anywhere. The question of upgrading or downgrading him doesn’t arise in this case,” he said requesting not to be quoted.