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Friday, April 23, 2021

Why didn’t you file FIR: HC pulls up Param Bir Singh over allegations against Deshmukh

Singh recently claimed Deshmukh asked police officer Sachin Waze to collect Rs 100 crore from bars and restaurants.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: April 1, 2021 5:22:27 am
‘Side postings’ used by govts to keep police officers at bayParam Bir Singh was moved to DG Home Guards after the arrest of suspended officer Sachin Waze. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty)

HEARING A petition filed by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, seeking a CBI probe against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh for alleged malpractices, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday said prima facie there can be no investigation without an FIR. It asked Singh why he had not filed a complaint on his allegations and if he did not have faith in his own police force.

After a six-hour hearing, a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni reserved orders on the preliminary objections raised by the state government to the PIL filed by Singh and others along with the interim relief sought by the petitioners. Singh has also sought direction to the state government to ensure transfers and postings of police officials are not done in exchange for pecuniary benefits to any politician.

Chief Justice CJ Datta asked Singh, “Where is FIR? You have to approach the police/agency with FIR. Our prima facie observation [with respect to prayer seeking CBI probe] is that there cannot be investigation without FIR,” the bench said, questioning the maintainability of the PIL.

“The petitioner [Singh] is no lay person. He is a senior police officer. If he has no faith in the police, what about the general public? He knows the registration of complaints is not just recording of facts by the police. Without an FIR, seeking CBI probe seems to be harsh. Your [Singh] duty was to file FIR, and not simply write a letter to the Chief Minister. We can say you remained silent despite there being an offence.”

The court said that only in rare and unusual cases it can direct investigation in the absence of an FIR. “Do not convert the first court (CJ court) of HC into magistrate court. If you want FIR, go to the magistrate to register the same. Law is only for the general public and police officers and ministers are above law? Even if the Home Minister is involved, you cannot keep aside Criminal Procedure Code. Let us assume, but if in future, any Prime Minister is involved, who is to investigate? Some superpower will come and probe? Who is CBI under?… You remained silent when you found out that your boss [Home Minister] was indulging in a crime. You failed your duty as a police officer if you did not register FIR.”

Referring to claims against Deshmukh allegedly made by arrested Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze and Assistant Commissioner of Police Sanjay Patil, the court asked Singh: “Did the Home Minister say this in your presence? This is nothing but hearsay. Are any of the officers supporting you saying that he was privy to the conversation and corroborated the same?” The court also noted that there were no affidavits filed by the concerned police officers to substantiate their claims.

In his PIL, Singh submitted that Deshmukh held meetings at his residence in February with police officers, including Waze and Patil, bypassing their seniors and told them that he targeted to collect Rs 100 crore every month and directed them to collect money from various establishments and sources.

Further, Singh said in August 2020, Rashmi Shukla, then Commissioner Intelligence, state intelligence department, had brought to the notice of the DGP about corruption in postings and transfers in Maharashtra. The DGP in turn had brought it to the knowledge of the Additional Chief Secretary (Home).

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni opposed the pleas filed by Singh and others seeking independent probe. He raised preliminary objection on maintainability of Singh’s plea, stating that “there is no doubt the state government is eager and anxious to get cleared the clouds of suspicion due to wild allegations, unnecessarily creating suspicion over the police force”.

“He [Singh] is vitally and personally interested in both the prayers of his PIL. He had himself filed a ‘personal’ petition before the Supreme Court. He made personal grievances before SC and played the victim card. How can he say that there is no personal interest now? It is patently false,” Kumbhakoni said.

He submitted that Singh made the allegations only after his March 17 transfer to Home Guards.

Appearing for Singh, senior counsel Vikram Nankani submitted that his client had constraints to register complaint as the allegations were against the state Home Minister, who is functional and statutory head of the department which oversees the police.

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