Former Kerala Director General of Police TP Senkumar’s case against the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government of Kerala, for “victimising him for carrying out impartial investigation in political killings in Kunnur” resulted in heated exchanges between counsels at the Supreme Court on April 11.
They were seeking justice before the bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta.
The hearings were completed and the court reserved its order, but the arguments brought out several facts.
Senkumar had alleged that soon after the LDF came to power last May, he was removed from the top police post, citing inaction in a case of brutal rape and murder of a law student, Jisha, in Kochi last year.
Senkumar had wanted this order quashed and sought permission to continue as state police chief.
Senior advocate Harish Salve appearing for the respondent submitted that the explosion of firecrackers at the Puttingal Devi Temple, south of Kollam, was due to the fault of police officials. He said on April 8, the ADM had strictly prohibited the use of fireworks at the temple.
At which Justice Lokur asked: “Is it your case that you removed him because of these two incidents or because of what he said afterwards?”
Replied Salve: “Both. If he had some problem he could have gone personally and met the CM, but making public statements was not on.”
Dushyant Dave, arguing for Senkumar, said: “We will file a rejoinder to their reply.”
Salve shot back: “Then give me a copy. I will take instructions and will come back.”
Dave said: “Why should I give you a copy? You promised me on Saturday that you will give a copy of the reply on that day but you did not. You gave me yesterday (April 10) when I was supposed to start my arguments. You appeared in the morning yesterday in another matter but did not appear in this matter. I feel bad when you tell lies on your wife’s name.”
At this Justice Lokur warned: “Please don’t get personal.”
Said Salve: “If he has issues with me, I can withdraw from the matter.”
Dave said: “Do whatever you want.”
When things cooled down again, Salve read from the Kerala Police Act 2011. Quoting Section 97, he said: “Minimum tenure of police officers: (1) The Government shall ensure a minimum tenure of two years for police officers posted as State Police Chief, Inspectors General in charge of Ranges, Superintendents of Police or Commissioners in charge of Police Districts and Station House Officers: Provided that this tenure shall not be applicable in cases of superannuation, promotion, reversion, suspension, leave, etc.
(2) The government or the appointing authority may, without prejudice to the right to initiate any legal or departmental action, transfer any police officer before completing the normal tenure of two years, on being satisfied prima facie that it is necessary to do so on any of the following grounds stated in (a) to (f), namely:
(a) the officer is subjected to disciplinary action;
(b) it is found prima facie on investigation that the officer is involved in a corrupt practice or in a criminal offence involving proclivity for violence or moral turpitude;
(c) the officer is physically or mentally incapable of discharging his duties;
(d) a superior officer evaluating the work of an officer, reports, in writing, that the officer is not carrying out his duties efficiently;
(e) cause serious dissatisfaction in the general public about efficiency of police in his jurisdiction;
(f) the officer requests, in writing, for a transfer from the place where he is working.”
Salve emphasized on sub section (e), which talks about “cause serious dissatisfaction in the general public about efficiency of police in his jurisdiction. He said this was the pertinent part.”
Dave cited examples such as in Gujarat. “There have been big cases. 2002 riots in Gujarat or 1996 incident in Delhi, but never any higher officials were transferred. However, in Gujarat commissioner of police was promoted to DGP after 4 years.
The thing is if someone toes your line then keep him. If he doesn’t, remove him. This is what happening in this case.”
—By India Legal Bureau