Param Bir Singh not whistleblower, flagged corruption after transfer: Maharashtra to SC
The Maharashtra government has filed a reply affidavit in the apex court.
Former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh cannot be considered as a "whistleblower" under the law as he chose to speak out against alleged corruption involving former home minister Anil Deshmukh only after his transfer, the Maharashtra government has told the Supreme Court seeking dismissal of his plea.
A bench headed by Justice S.K. Kaul had granted a major relief to Singh on November 22 by directing the Maharashtra Police not to arrest him in criminal cases lodged against him and had wondered if he was being hounded for filing cases against police officers and extortionists, "what could happen to a common man".
Seeking dismissal of Singh's plea for a CBI probe into the entire matter and against any coercive action by the state, the Maharashtra government has filed a reply affidavit in the apex court and said that the ongoing probe in criminal cases against the former top cop not be interfered with.
In the affidavit, Joint Secretary of Maharashtra Home Department Venkatesh Madhav said, "Petitioner (Singh) cannot be considered a whistleblower. I state and submit that, contrary to what is stated in the SLP (special leave petition), I deny that petitioner is a whistleblower as contemplated under the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2014 or that the ratio laid down in the case of...applies to the facts of the present case.
"As evident from the petitioners own letter dated March 20, 2021, the petitioner cites instances of alleged corruption that took place few months prior to March, but only sought to expose these allegations on March 20, that is three days after he was transferred. Thus it is denied that the petitioner's letter dated March 20 was issued in public interest or for a bonafide purpose and therefore it is denied that the petitioner is a whistleblower." In the 83-page reply, the state government said Singh who was recently suspended from the Mumbai Police over allegations of misconduct is indirectly trying to seek a stay on the criminal investigations pending against him through the petition and has failed to disclose material and relevant facts.
"At the outset, I say that this court in a catena of judgements...has observed that it must be left to the discretion of the investigating agency to decide the course of investigation and that a court should interfere with an investigation only in rare cases.
"The Petitioner has filed the SLP against the impugned judgement dated September 16, 2021, passed by the Bombay High Court, but is really seeking a stay of further proceedings into various criminal complaints registered against him and this, with great respect, ought not to be permitted by this court," the state government said.
The state government said that various enquiries against the suspended police officer are pending and being conducted.
"The following instances of negligence in performance of service by the petitioner were to be enquired into.... Whether the petitioner failed to control and supervise his subordinate Mr. Sachin Waze (who was appointed as the head of the Crime Investigation Unit despite the opposition of the Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), against whom a case has been registered by the NIA in view of his involvement in parking an explosive-laden car near the Antilia building, Mumbai, which was found on February 25, 2021,” it said.
The affidavit said that the state government has accorded approval to initiate the disciplinary proceedings against him under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969.
“The statement of articles of charges framed against him along with the statement of imputations of misconduct or misbehaviour and a list of documents...are issued,” it said.
The affidavit stated Singh should approach the Central Administrative Tribunal to challenge the departmental enquiry and his plea was rightly dismissed by the Bombay High Court on the grounds of non-maintainability and availability of alternate remedies.
"The validity of the order dated April 1 and April 20 including the alleged malafides in issuance of the said order clearly fall within the ambit of 'service matters', which can be agitated before and adjudicated by the CAT...," it said.
It said the plea of Singh has become infructuous as the CBI has already issued summons to Sanjay Pande, a police officer, on September 18 and it is evident that the CBI is investigating the conversations that took place between Param Bir Singh and Sanjay Pande.
The apex court has fixed the plea of Singh for hearing on December 6.
The matter involving Singh and former state home minister Anil Deshmukh, facing probe over corruption allegations levelled by Singh, has become “curiouser and curiouser”, the top court had said, issuing notices to the Maharashtra government, its DGP Sanjay Pande and the CBI on the plea of the former top cop of Mumbai.
Singh's lawyer had said Singh needed protection as he had shown the courage to come to this court and raise the issue of corruption against the former state home minister.
The lawyer had said as many as six FIRs have been lodged against Singh for the alleged offences pertaining to years like 2015 and 2016 and submitted as to how a police officer will act if they are hounded at the behest of state for the actions done as police officers on the complaints of bookies and extortionists.
The Bombay High Court had dismissed Singh's petition seeking to quash inquiries initiated against him by the Maharashtra government, and said he can approach the Central Administrative Tribunal.
After he was shunted out as Mumbai Police commissioner in March 2021 in the aftermath of the Antilia bomb scare case, Singh, in a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, levelled corruption allegations against Deshmukh.
In his petition, Singh had also alleged that DGP Pande told him that the inquiries were the fall-out of his allegations against Deshmukh, an NCP leader.