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. The former IPS officer had taken on the previous Gujarat government led by the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, now the Prime Minister, for 2002 post-Godhra riots.
The division bench led by justice M R Shah pronounced the order on a petition moved by the state government challenging the order of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) which in 2007, had quashed the departmental chargesheet issued against Sreekumar. The division bench set aside the tribunal’s order and allowed the state authorities to initiate the inquiry.
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The chargesheet was issued against the former top cop in September 2005 on nine alleged charges including maintaining a private diary and making it official, taping conversation of a meeting with government official and “leaking intelligence reports” to the media among others. Sreekumar had submitted the diary, tape recordings and intelligence reports before the Nanavati Commission probing the 2002 riots. Sreekumar moved before the CAT in 2007 which quashed the chargesheet. Subsequently, the state appealed against the CAT order in the high court in 2008.
Sreekumar, who retired in 2007, was among the first serving IPS officers who had openly criticized the then Gujarat government for 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 recordings with several state government officials asking him not to give any information to the Commission that may embarrass the government.
Following the request by Sreekumar’s lawyer I H Syed, the bench ordered that the former cop shall file his reply to the state government by October 28 and directed the state government not to take any action against the retired officer. When contacted, Sreekumar said that “state government is systematically working to finish all the whistle blowers and I am the first whistle blower. I am planning to move Supreme Court.”
Appearing for the state government Advocate General Kamal Trivedi had submitted before the bench that 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 an unauthorized 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…I can’ turn like bull in china shop. It is beyond morally established principles,” Trivedi had argued.