Retired IPS officer Julio Ribeiro, who served as Director General of Police (DGP) in Gujarat in the mid-1980s, is set to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Gujarat High Court, challenging the state government’s decision of appointing DGP Prithvi Pal Pandey as in-charge police chief. Pandey is one of the key accused in the Ishrat Jahan encounter, who is currently out on bail.
On April 15, Pandey replaced his predecessor P C Thakur, who was shifted to Delhi unceremoniously by the order of the Central government. The petition is most likely to be filed on Wednesday.
Ribeiro, a decorated officer known for taking on insurgents in Punjab, is filing the PIL through IPS-turned-lawyer Rahul Sharma. Ribeiro told The Indian Express, “Yes, I have filed the PIL against the decision of the state government. I have nothing personal against an individual, but my move is based on principles.” He said that being an accused, the government should not have given Pandey the charge of police chief. Eighty-seven- year-old Ribeiro, a 1953 batch IPS officer of Maharashtra cadre when Gujarat was part of it, served Gujarat Police in the mid 1980s when the state was reeling under major riots. Ribeiro told this paper that being a supervisory officer, Pandey may influence his subordinates who are witnesses in the case.
Pandey is the senior-most DGP in the state after Thakur. This is perhaps the first time in Gujarat when a top police officer facing a murder charge and out on bail has been given the charge of police chief. Pandey’s passport still continues to be forfeited by the special CBI court as per his bail condition for not allowing him to move out of the country. Pandey has sought his passport from the court where his application is pending.
Pandey is among seven Gujarat police officers chargesheeted by the CBI for abducting and killing 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan, her friend Javed Sheikh and two alleged Pakistani terrorist Zeeshan Johar and Amjadali Rana. The other accused are retired IPS officer D G Vanzara, IPS G L Singhal, N K Amin, among others, who are all out on bail.