The Gujarat High Court on Monday issued notices to the Central and State governments, and the director general of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), on a plea by IPS officer Rajnish Rai seeking relief from a suspension order and charge sheet filed against him for “misconduct” by the Centre. The Gujarat cadre officer, who was last posted as inspector general of police at the Counter Intelligence and Anti Terrorism School of the CRPF at Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh, had sought retirement in November last year.
The respondents have been given two weeks’ time to file a reply though no specific date has been set for the next hearing.
His petition, filed on March 18, read: “Just because he (Rai) has chosen to join the services of the respondents (Union of India, state of Gujarat and director general, CRPF), he cannot be considered to have mortgaged his life to them. To live the rest of his life after retirement, the petitioner may be seeking alternate employment, occupation or professional engagement to earn his livelihood. For this purpose, it is necessary that the respondents be restrained from interfering, directly or indirectly, with any such effort by the petitioner to seek employment/occupation/profession in a manner prejudicial to him.”
Mentioning the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati encounter cases in the petition, the plea said, “The arrest of three IPS officers created a lot of bitterness between the petitioner and the government of the day.”
Rai, who was supervising investigations into the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati encounter cases, had arrested IPS officers D G Vanzara (now retired), Rajkumar Pandian (Gujarat cadre) and Dinesh M N (Rajasthan cadre) in 2007. All three were later discharged in the case.
In August 2018, Rai had sought retirement on November 30, 2018, which was rejected by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Rai, however, proceeded on retirement on the said date and moved the Central Administrative Tribunal’s (CAT) Ahmedabad Bench in December 2018, which issued notices to the government and granted him an interim relief on January 21, 2019.
The government had refused him retirement stating that “he was not clear from the vigilance angle” and cited a charge sheet of 2017 served to him by the Centre and three preliminary inquiries against him pending with the Gujarat government.
Meanwhile, before the next date of hearing in CAT scheduled for January 21, 2019, Rai was issued suspension orders and a charge sheet questioning the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
The single-judge Bench of the CAT, Ahmedabad, later ordered on March 7 that the matter be placed before a Division Bench.
Advocate Rahul Sharma, representing Rai, said “We had approached the Central Administrative Tribunal earlier, but since there is no division bench available there, we have moved (the) Gujarat HC.”
Notably, a draft amendment was also filed on Monday, seeking the court’s permission to enter two reasons as grounds of the petition. These reasons are, one that “…great prejudice has been caused to him (petitioner) because of the limited interim relief granted to him by the CAT order of January 21, because the central government may still proceed with the inquiry against him till the stage of its final culmination.” The second ground was that, “the petitioner… has a prima facie case and expeditious disposal of the CAT order would be in the interest of justice.”
Two prayer clauses too were added. One sought that the HC quashes and set aside the CAT order and further, “direct the respondents not to take any coercive action against the petitioner, pending the disposal of the CAT, Ahmedabad Bench, order.” Another prayer sought the HC’s direction direct to CAT, Ahmedabad Bench, to dispose of the original application within three months of the disposal of this petition.”