Mumbai: Former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh faced tough questions today as his petition seeking a CBI investigation against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh was heard by Bombay High Court. He was repeatedly asked why no FIR had been 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? Don’t view yourself so high, the law is above you,” Bombay High Court Chief Justice CJ Dutta said in stern remarks during arguments.
Param Bir Singh, who was recently replaced as Mumbai Police chief and moved to the Home Guards, has alleged in a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray that Anil Deshmukh had asked arrested police officer Sachin Waze to collect Rs 100 crore monthly from bars and restaurants. That is the basis of his petition.
“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.
“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,” the court responded.
“You are asking for directions for investigation to be handed over to the CBI. Where is the FIR and investigation so that it can be handed over to CBI?”
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. If any citizen finds an offence is being committed he is duty-bound to file an FIR.”
The FIR, said the High Court, was the “fundamental thing” and without one there could be no investigation.
“Can you show us from the complaint first hand that the Home Minister said this in your presence,” the court asked Mr Singh.
“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 Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. “I have mentioned the perpetuators of the crime. My pleas have not been paid heed to. I have no other place to go,” he said.
The court is yet to pass the order and the arguments are on.
In an explosive letter to the Chief Minister, Mr Singh had 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 alleged corruption in police transfers and postings.
Mr Deshmukh has denied the allegations, which have caused a rift within ruling coalition partners Shiv Sena and NCP.
Mr Singh had initially approached the Supreme Court, alleging he had been removed after he complained to Uddhav Thackeray and other senior leaders about the “corrupt malpractices” of the state Home Minister.
The Supreme Court termed it a “serious case” but asked Mr Singh to approach the High Court.