The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday concluded the hearing on Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the appointment and promotion of Director General of Police (DGP) P P Pandey as in charge police chief. Pandey, who is currently out on bail, was chargesheeted in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.
The division bench led by Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy reserved the verdict after the competition of the arguments. The appointment of Pandey for the top post has been challenged by Julio Ribeiro, a 1953 batch retired IPS officer of Maharashtra cadre who served Gujarat as its DGP in mid 80s when the state was in the middle of a major riot.
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The petition has questioned the legality of promotion and appointment of Pandey as in charge DGP. It said, “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.”
Senior counsel I H Syed, who argued for the petitioner, cited two cases in which civil servants — Nira Yadav and P J Thomas, having tainted records, were given top posts by the state governments which were eventually annulled by the Supreme Court. Syed argued that Pandey should not have been promoted to DGP and given additional charge of police chief considering the fact that he was declared as a “proclaimed absconder” by a CBI court in a case in which four people were murdered in cold blood.
Appearing for the state government, Additional Solicitor General, Supreme Court, Tushar Mehta argued that “the respondent (Pandey) should not have been given the post, even on temporary basis, is a matter of perception based on assumption” and therefore, he said, this petition should be dismissed. Mehta argued that its a service related matter and a PIL should not be entertained.
Besides, Mehta told the court that following the deputation of DGP P C Thakur to the central government in Delhi, Pandey, being the senior most IPS officer, was given the additional charge which is a temporary arrangement. He said that even the promotion of Pandey from Additional DGP to DGP last year is restricted to his pay scale. Pandey was ADGP when he was arrested in the case days after his release he was promoted to DGP rank.
Mehta reiterated the state government’s stand which was mentioned in the affidavit filed earlier on Friday that, “Pandey has been granted bail by the competent court after due consideration of all facts. It is not for the government or the state authority to harbor any presupposition or apprehension against any officer which runs counter to the spirit of order passed by the competent court.”