Expressing their disinclination to entertain the plea filed by Param Bir Singh challenging the two preliminary enquiries initiated against him by the Maharashtra Government, a bench of the Bombay High Court said that he should have approached the Central Administrative Tribunal.
"We are of the prima facie view that the reliefs claimed can be adjudicated by the Central Administrative Tribunal," the division bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale observed, adding that there is no urgency in the matter.
"Mr. Punamiya (Param Bir's lawyer) wants an adjournment, we are granting adjournment, but we find that there is no urgency in the matter in view of the statement made by Mr Khambata, appearing for the state."
Senior Counsel Daraius Khambata appearing for the State of Maharashtra, opposed Param Bir's petition, submitting that the plea was infructuous as DGP Sanjay Pandey heading the inquiry, has recused himself, and fresh inquiry orders are issued.
He further submitted that the petition was not maintainable as it's a service matter, and Param Bir Singh should approach the Central Administrative Tribunal with his grievances.
The petition will now be heard on June 9.
During the hearing, Advocate Sunny Punamiya appearing for Param Bir requested the court for an adjournment to May 6, as Senior Advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Aabad Ponda were not available.
Senior Advocate Navroz Seervai, appearing on behalf of DGP Sanjay Pandey remarked that "The seniors should not take the court so lightly."
He submitted that Pandey withdrew from the inquiry as soon as Pram Bir made allegations against him. "I want to file a short affidavit against the baseless and false allegations, " he added.
The bench then reiterated its stand that this was a service matter, and they are only granting an adjourned so that Punamiya may not get into trouble.
The bench then adjourned the petition for hearing to June 6, beyond the vacation.
"We make it clear that the pendency of this petition shall not be an impediment in the petitioner approaching the central administrative tribunal," the bench observed.
Calling himself a whistle-blower "who has tried to highlight corruption in the highest public office" and seeking protection at par with a whistle-blower, Param Bir Singh approached the Bombay High Court on April 29, challenging the PEs.
According to the petition, the orders dates April 1 and April 20, 2021, issued by the State Home Ministry are to target and harass him and such actions by the State can act as a deterrent for public servants to "make disclosures of corruption and other illegal activities of the high functionaries of the State machinery."
The petition also claims that during his meeting with state Director General of Police (DGP) Sanjay Pandey on April 19, Pandey "advised him" to withdraw his letter against former State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, which Singh had sent to the state government.
A decorated IPS officer Sanjay Pandey, withdrew from the enquiries soon after Param Bir filed the petition.
Maharashtra government has now set up a 3-member committee led by a senior IAS officer to hold the inquiry against Param Bir.
Param Bir, who was shifted from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner to the Home Guards department on March 17 this year, had written a letter to the government alleging corruption and misuse of official position by Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
The letter from March 20 alleged that Deshmukh met with subordinate police officers, including suspended Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze, in February and asked for collection of Rs 100 crore per month.
After hearing a clutch of PILs, including one by Param Bir, the Bombay High Court had, on April 5 issued directions for the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct a preliminary enquiry into the allegations levelled by in Singh's letter.
Deshmukh resigned as State's Home Minister pursuant to these directions. The HC directions, which were issued primarily on an advocate's PIL said the CBI was at liberty to take further action based on the preliminary enquiry findings. The CBI registered a case against Deshmukh and unknown others on April 22.