Bombay High Court on Wednesday heard former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh's plea against alleged "malpractices" of Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh why he did not lodge a police complaint against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh if he was aware of an alleged wrongdoing being committed by the minister.
While hearing the plea, Cheif Justice Dipankar Datta said, "You remained silent when you found out that your boss was indulging in a crime. You failed your duty as a police officer if you did not register FIR."
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni asked Singh why he did not lodge a complaint with the police first, and said without an FIR the HC cannot intervene or direct for an independent agency like the CBI to carry out an investigation.
Singh recently claimed Deshmukh asked police officer Sachin Vaze to collect Rs 100 crore from bars and restaurants. The minister has, however, denied any wrongdoing.
The bench further noted that Singh cannot convert the HC into a magistrate court.
"The proper and appropriate course of action would be for you (Singh) to first lodge a complaint with police. If the police do not lodge an FIR, then you have the option of filing an application before the magistrate," the court said.
Singh's counsel Vikram Nankani said his client wanted to avoid this "chakravyuh" (labyrinth).
The HC, however, noted this was the procedure laid down in law.
"Are you saying that you are above the law?" Chief Justice Datta asked.
Nankani argued that he did not have any other option than to approach the HC, as the complaint and allegations were against the "very head of the state administration".
The court further asked Nankani if any statement, as alleged by Singh in the petition against Deshmukh that he had asked police officers to extort money, was made by the Home minister in Singh's presence.
"Was any of these statements made by the Home Minister in Singh's presence? Otherwise this is nothing but hearsay," the court said.
The HC further said there is also no affidavit submitted by any of the police officers who were allegedly called by Deshmukh to his residence, supporting the allegations levelled by Singh.
The bench said without an FIR it cannot pass an order directing an independent agency to investigate the matter.
"Our prima facie opinion is that without an FIR, this court cannot order investigation. Your prayer seeking a direction to the CBI to investigate appears to be harsh in the absence of an FIR," Chief Justice Datta said.
The court further asked if a PIL is maintainable when the issue pertains to a service matter.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, appearing for the Maharashtra government, sought dismissal of the petition with an exemplary cost and claimed the plea was filed with personal vendetta.
"The PIL is not filed in public interest, but is riddled with personal grievances and interests. The petitioner has come to this court with dirty hands and dirty mind," Kumbhakoni said.
For the unversed, in a setback to the ousted former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, a 1988 batch IPS officer, the Supreme Court had refused to entertain his plea to stay his transfer to the Home Guards and order a CBI probe into the alleged corrupt malpractices of Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, telling him to approach the Bombay High Court.
Singh, who was shunted out as Mumbai's Commissioner of Police (CP) in the wake of the bomb scare at top industrialist Mukesh Ambani's home Antilia in Mumbai, has claimed in his petition that Deshmukh had "pressurised" him to probe the role of certain BJP leaders and "somehow implicate them in the case of the death of MP Mohan Delkar", but he did not succumb to the pressure.
The petition also alleged that Deshmukh surpassed his authority in calling junior police officers to his residence and asking them to collect "hafta" (bribe) for him to the tune of Rs 100 crore a month.