The Supreme Court, while refusing to grant any more time to the state on Friday, directed the additional solicitor general (ASG), who is representing Gujarat government, to file a reply, latest by Monday, to a petition challenging the elevation of DGP PP Pandey as in-charge police chief.
The apex court was hearing the petition moved by former Gujarat DGP Julio Ribeiro, challenging the elevation of Pandey, citing his role in Ishrat Jahan encounter case. Pandey has been chargesheeted by CBI for conspiracy, illegal confinement and murder along with other accused. He is out on bail in the case.
“We told the court that Pandey’s term was extended through a notification for another three months after his superannuation. He is facing murder charges and has applied for discharge. The CBI has opposed the discharge application saying that he has a very significant role in the case,” said senior lawyer Vrinda Grover who appeared for Ribeiro. Pandey was to retire on January 31 but the state government extended his term for three months, which ends in April.
She added that the state government sought time to file its reply by Friday but the court refused to grant more time. “The court told ASG Tushar Mehta to withdraw the elevation of Pandey or file the reply by Monday.” Mehta said that the state would file its reply on Monday.
Ribeiro had first moved Gujarat High Court saying that “such an additional charge (to Pandey) is against the doctrine of public trust, is against the law and…guidelines of the Supreme Court”.
He had contested 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.”
The high court had rejected the petition while holding that additional charge of police chief to Pandey was merely “a stop-gap arrangement.”