In a setback to former director general of police (DGP) R B Sreekumar, the Gujarat High Court on Friday allowed the state government to initiate a departmental inquiry, pending since 2005, against him. The former IPS officer had taken on the previous Gujarat government led by the then chief minister Narendra Modi over the 2002 riots issue.
A division bench of Justices M R Shah and G R Udhwani pronounced the order on a petition moved by the state government, which had challenged a Central Administrative Tribunal’s (CAT’s) order in 2007 to quash the departmental chargesheet against Sreekumar. The bench set aside the tribunal’s order and allowed the state authorities to initiate the inquiry.
Following a request from Sreekumar’s counsel I H Syed, the bench stayed the matter till October 20, mentioning that in the meanwhile “Sreekumar may file his reply before the state government.”
In September 2005, the chargesheet was issued against Sreekumar on nine charges, including maintaining a private diary and making it official, taping conversation of a meeting with government officials and “leaking intelligence reports” to the media. Sreekumar had submitted the diary, tape recordings and intelligence reports before the Nanavati Commission probing the 2002 riots.
In April 2006, Sreekumar moved the CAT, which quashed the chargesheet in September 2007. Subsequently, the state appealed against the CAT order in the High Court in 2008.
Sreekumar, retired in 2007, was among the first serving IPS officers who had openly criticised the then Gujarat government over its handling of the riots, and had deposed before the commission.
He had several run-ins with the state government which started following his depositions in the commission. While deposing before the commission, Sreekumar had submitted the controversial diary, containing oral instructions of his superiors and an audio recording of several officials asking him not to give any information to the commission that might embarrass the government.
Following the request by Sreekumar’s lawyer, the bench ordered the former top cop must file his reply to the state government by October 20 and directed the government not to take any action against him till then.
When contacted, Sreekumar said, “The state government is systematically working to finish all the whistleblowers, and I am the first whistleblower. I am planning to move Supreme Court.”
Appearing for the state government, advocate general Kamal Trivedi had submitted before the bench that the CAT’s order was arbitrary and suffered from “non-application of mind”. He had argued that keeping a personal diary and disclosing it as an official diary and unauthorised tape recording by a high rank police officer is unbecoming of a police officer. “Is it a duty of police officer to barter information to press… It is beyond morally established principles,” Trivedi had argued.