The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Gujarat government’s order approving criminal prosecution against retired director general of police Kuldip Sharma in an assault case lodged in 1984.
A bench of Justices V Gopala Gowda and C Nagappan also stayed trial proceeding against Sharma, who took on the previous Gujarat government under Narendra Modi.
An FIR was lodged against Sharma, who was Kutch SP in May 1984, for allegedly assaulting in custody a suspected smuggler, Ibla Sheth. A police complaint was filed under IPC Sections 323 (causing hurt) and 506 for (criminal intimidation).
However, 28 years later, the state government, then led by Modi, granted the sanction needed for prosecuting a government servant under Section 197 of the CrPC. This set off the prosecution and trial proceeding.
Sharma challenged this decision in High Court, which last month dismissed his plea and ordered the trial court to complete the trial by the end of 2015.
Appearing for Sharma, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal and advocate Sunil Fernandes drew the top court’s attention towards the peculiarity of the case wherein a sanction by the state government came 28 years after the incident. They also pointed out that the state government had filed an application before the Bhuj court in 1987, stating that the case be dismissed for want of sanction.
Sibal argued that the state government and the then chief minister tried every trick in the book to send the officer behind the bars. He added: “It is very well known why such action was taken against him and the state government was hell-bent to wreak vengeance.”
The interim relief was resisted by additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who appeared for state government. The court, however, passed the interim order staying all proceeding against Sharma in this case and sought a formal response from the state government.
Sharma, a 1976-batch IPS officer, retired as DGP two years ago. Recently, Sharma was chargesheeted by the state government for violation of financial rules. The chargesheet claimed that Sharma, as managing director of Gujarat Sheep and Wool Development Corporation, did not surrender a certain unused amount pending with the corporation to the government as per the norm. The amount was surrendered by his successor.