Bombay High Court on Wednesday came down heavily on former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh over his plea seeking CBI probe against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. HC asked him that why he didn’t lodge a complaint against Anil Deshmukh if he was well aware of an alleged wrongdoing on the part of 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?” asked Chief Justice CJ Dutta.
The division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni stated that the High Court cannot intervene or direct an independent agency like the CBI to initiate any probe against the minister, if no FIR has been registered.
“You (Singh) are a senior police officer. You are not a layman. You were duty-bound to register a complaint against any wrongdoing. Despite knowing that an offence is being committed by your boss, you (Singh) remained silent,” said CJ Dutta.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by Parama Bir Singh which was moved on March 25 seeking CBI probe against Anil Deshmukh. In a letter written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Parma Bir Singh alleged that Anil Deshmukh has asked police officer Sachin Vaze to collect ₹ 100 crore monthly from bars and restaurants.
“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,” Param Bir Singh to the High Court.
To which, High Court bench responded, “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. 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 court further stated that he cannot convert the High Court 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 noted.
Advocate Nankani appearing for Param Bir Singh submitted that his client wanted to avoid the whole “chakravyuh” and therefore approached the High Court directly.
Hearing the submission, Chief Justice Dutta said, “Are you saying that you are above the law?”
To support his submissions, Nankani further told the court that he didn’t have any other option as the allegations were against the very head of the state administration.
The division bench also noted that 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.
“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,” said CJ Dutta.
“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,” said High Court.