The Karnataka High Court on Monday held that empanelment of Director-General of Police Shankar M. Bidari for the post of State police chief was vitiated as the State government did not place before the empanelling authority the report of the NHRC's panel on atrocities committed by the Special Task Force (STF) during the anti-Veerappan operation.
Dismissing the petitions field by Mr. Bidari and the State government challenging the order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that had set aside Mr. Bidari's appointment as State police chief, the High Court said that NHRC panel's report, and the orders passed by the NHRC based on the report were relevant materials that were required to be considered by the selection authority before empanelling the eligible police officers for the post. Pointing out that the A.J. Sadashiva panel of the NHRC had made certain “adverse comments” with respect to Mr. Bidari's functioning as a commandant of the STF, the Division Bench comprising Justice N. Kumar and Justice H.S. Kempanna held that only a part of Mr. Bidari's service as commandant of STF — gallantry medal and cash reward given to him for his role in anti-Veerappan operations — was placed before the UPSC, the Empanelling Authority.
The remaining part — NHRC panel report, and the orders passed by the NHRC ordering compensation to victims of rape, atrocities and families of those died in “suspicious encounters” by STF, were not placed before the UPSC, the Bench said.
“The NHRC panel had recorded a finding of rape, torture, disrobing of women, giving electricity to various parts of body of persons who were investigated. The third respondent [Mr. Bidari] was commandant of the said STF for a period of three-and-a-half years. The perpetrators of these atrocities could not be identified at all, let alone taking any action against them. “This length of service and his range of experience during the said period, how he has faced the challenges during the said period while commanding his force is a very vital, and material information which ought to have been taken note of by the UPSC before empanelling him. Because they are empanelling persons who are going to head the police force of the State,” the Bench observed. Therefore, the Bench found that Mr. Bidari's experience and the style of functioning, while he was heading a small force like STF was very relevant. Pointing out that the “range of experience” is the one of the three criteria laid down by the Supreme Court for selecting persons to the post of State police force, the Bench said that “the NHRC panel report and orders are in the nature of records showing the range of his [Mr. Bidari's] experience as a commandant of the task force, which is assigned a particular task. This is something different from routine work. It is also a part of length of his service…”
The CAT had set aside Mr. Bidari's appointment. The High Court on March 30 had dismissed petitions challenging the CAT order.