- Param Bir Singh faced tough questions today in Bombay High Court
- His petition seeking a CBI probe against Anil Deshmukh was heard
- He had accused Maharashtra Minister Home Anil Deshmukh of corruption
Former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh had a tough day in court today as his petition requesting a CBI investigation against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh was heard by the Bombay High Court. He was repeatedly asked why no FIR was filed on his allegations against the minister.
"You are a police commissioner, why should the law be set aside for you? Are police officers, ministers and politicians all above the law? Are you saying that you are above the law?" Bombay High Court Chief Justice CJ Dutta said in stern remarks during arguments.
The High Court said in an investigation the FIR is the first step.
"We cannot throw aside laws because the home minister and Chief Minister are involved. If a PM is involved who will investigate? You want a super power from outside?"
After hours of back-and-forth, the High Court reserved its order.
Param Bir Singh, who was recently replaced as Mumbai Police chief, has alleged that he was targeted because he had complained to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray about Anil Deshmukh, listing several allegations including extortion and illegal transfers. That is the basis of his petition seeking a probe.
"These are hard facts coming from the person who occupied the highest post in the police force in the city and from someone who has served for more than 30 years," Mr Singh told the High Court.
The court questioned why no FIR was filed. "There has to be an FIR to investigate. Who stops you from filing an FIR? Prima facie observation is there can be no investigation without an FIR," it said.
The petition "prima facie" has no basis, said the court, adding, "Without an FIR where is the scope for us to exercise our jurisdiction?"
When Mr Singh argued that "even a simple letter to my lords" can become a PIL (Public Interest Litigation), the court replied: "You are a police officer. If you find an offence has been committed you are duty bound to file an FIR. Why did you not do it? You are failing in your duty if you don't file an FIR when you know an offence has been committed. Simply writing letters to the Chief Minister won't do. We can pull you up for it."
An FIR, said the High Court, was the "fundamental thing" and without one there could be no investigation.
"Earlier it was not rampant that FIRs were not registered. We should all feel ashamed that we are giving the liberty to the police to decide whether an FIR is registered or not."
In an explosive letter to the Chief Minister after his transfer, Mr Singh alleged that Mr Deshmukh had asked police officers, including Sachin Waze -- arrested by the National Investigation Agency in the case of an SUV carrying explosives parked near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's home in Mumbai - to collect Rs 100 crore each month from bars and restaurants.
The petition also accused Mr Deshmukh of corruption in police transfers and postings, based on allegations by an IPS officer, Rashmi Shukla.
Mr Deshmukh has denied the allegations, which have caused a rift within ruling coalition partners Shiv Sena and NCP.
"Can you show us from the complaint first hand that the Home Minister said this in your presence," the court asked Mr Singh, apparently referring to the extortion charge.
"Is there any affidavit from the officers saying that 'the home minister has said this to me'?"
To which, the former police chief said he had discussed the subject with Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. "I mentioned the perpetuators of the crime. My pleas have not been paid heed to. I have no other place to go," he said.
Mr Singh had initially approached the Supreme Court, which asked him to approach the High Court while calling it a "serious" case.
Mr Singh argued that the Supreme Court's observations were "very strong and weighty".
He said he had no other remedy but to approach the court.
The court said: "If a person of the rank of police commissioner says that then what about the general public?"