Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Supreme Court transfers Maharashtra probe against former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh to CBI

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A very ‘murky affair’ is going on amid echelons of power on who should investigate the matter observed the Apex Court while transferring investigation to CBI into FIRs registered against Mumbai former top cop Param Bir Singh over the allegations of misconduct and corruption.

A two-judge bench of Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice M.M. Sundresh said a thorough investigation is required to regain faith of people in the state police.

“We are unable to accept the contention that an FIR is registered by those who had complaints against the petitioner. We are of the view that state itself should have allowed CBI to carry the investigation. We are of the prima facie view that there is some concerted effort which needs the investigation by CBI. What is the truth, who is at fault how does such scenario come to prevail is something which investigation must get into. CBI must hold an impartial inquiry into all these aspects”

-said the bench. 

The Court said it is not commenting on merits of the allegations as it does not want the investigation to be influenced in any manner.

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“We do not want the investigation to be influenced by the observation of this court. The High Court has treated this as a service dispute which it is not and thus we set aside the HC verdict. We allow the appeal and direct the probe into 5 FIRs be transferred to CBI with all records. Such transfer to be completed within one week and all officials to extend full cooperation to CBI to try arrive at the truth”

-the bench said.

On the previous hearings the bench had said, that it will decide whether the FIRs lodged by Maharashtra police against Param Bir Singh be handed over to CBI or not and asked the state govt to keep its hands off from those cases till it decides the issue.

The bench had said it’s a “messy state of affairs” referring to ongoing legal battle between former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Sigh with the state administration. 

The Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice MM Sunderesh heard the petition filed by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh seeking the quashing of the FIR against him registered in Mumbai or hand over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

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In the previously held hearings, the Supreme Court had said it is clearly visible that the case is being jeopardized and, therefore, it should be ensured that such attempts fail.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for CBI had submitted that he apprehended a cover-up by the State Police and requested for an early date.

The CBI said the probe agency is ready to take up the investigation as efforts are being made to meddle with the ongoing investigation into the extortion allegations in the case against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. The agency also cited the chat transcript of Maharashtra DGP Sanjay Pandey given by Param Bir Singh. The CBI said that this is a clear attempt by Pandey to interfere in the investigation handed over by the court.

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Continuing the stay on Singh’s arrest, the court had granted interim relief to another accused Binu Nayan Varghese, and granted an interim stay on Varghese’s arrest. The court also directed all the accused to cooperate in the investigation.

Param Bir Singh’s lawyer Puneet Bali told the court that he has no objection if the investigation is done by the CBI or the FIR filed against him should be quashed.

Bali said that when the Maharashtra government is unable to do anything on the criminal case, action has been initiated in the name of departmental inquiry against Singh.

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Bali said the Additional Chief Secretary and DGP refused to appear before the CBI. He also said that attempts are being made to obstruct CBI proceedings. This has also been mentioned by the CBI in itself.

Param Bir Singh had challenged the Bombay High Court’s order dated September 16 dismissing his plea against the two preliminary enquiries initiated by the Maharashtra government besides seeking the transfer of cases filed against him to the CBI.

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