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Monday, June 21, 2021

Part of force for 30 years, can’t doubt your own: SC on Param Bir Singh plea

Justice Gupta said the inquiry against Singh was different from the inquiry against Deshmukh. “You have been a part of the force for 30-plus years. You cannot have doubt against your own,” he said.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
June 12, 2021 4:42:51 am
Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. (File)

SAYING IT was “shocking” that former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, who has “served the state” for over 30 years, didn’t “trust the functioning of (his) own state”, the Supreme Court on Friday allowed him to withdraw his plea seeking transfer of all inquiries against him to an independent agency outside Maharashtra.

Appearing for Singh before a vacation bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani said that while the Bombay High Court had ordered a CBI probe into the allegations of extortion levelled by Singh against former state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, there was an attempt to subvert the process.

He said Singh was facing pressure from the probe officer.

Justice Gupta said the inquiry against Singh was different from the inquiry against Deshmukh. “You have been a part of the force for 30-plus years. You cannot have doubt against your own,” he said.

Jethmalani said while he did not doubt the police, the probe officer, a DGP-rank officer, had asked Singh to withdraw his letter to the Chief Minister alleging extortion by Deshmukh, failing which other criminal cases would be initiated against him.

Expressing disbelief, Justice Gupta told him that if a DGP-rank officer could give in to pressure, then there would be nobody who could withstand pressure.

Jethmalani said the criminal complaints against Singh were being filed by “people who are chargesheeted, but are now falsely implicating” him.

The bench said it cannot pre-judge and the history of the complainant cannot be the ground to quash the complaint.

The court then asked Jethamalani whether he would like to withdraw the plea and approach the High Court. “Please see my prayer. I can’t keep facing one FIR after another just because I’m a whistleblower. How many cases will I fight? The gentleman in the case who is facing five trials is now filing a case against me,” Jethmalani responded.

“There is a saying, people in glass houses should not throw stones,” said the bench.

Jethmalani said the court was assuming that he was living in a glass house. “This is a prejudicial statement against me… If Your Lordships say that I am living in a glasshouse, I am being pre-judged,” he said.

“If the police officers were totally independent and were not caged parrots, I would have confidence. There are other people like me who are also being victimised. Anybody who talks against the government is being victimised,” he said.

The court asked how it could order a blanket stay on the FIRs. Jethmalani said his request was that no FIR should be filed without the court’s permission. But the bench said different magistrates were looking into the FIRs.

The court also asked how the inquiry against Singh could be shifted to another state.

After the bench observed that it would dismiss the petition, Singh’s counsel said he would withdraw it, with liberty to avail other remedy. “Accordingly, the writ petition is dismissed as withdrawn with the liberty aforesaid,” the bench said in its order.

Singh, a 1988-batch IPS officer, was removed from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner in March and was made the General Commander of Maharashtra State Home Guard after he levelled allegations of corruption and misconduct against Deshmukh. Deshmukh has denied any wrongdoing.

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