Police reforms only recalled when something erupts: SC in Param Bir Singh case

New Delhi, March 24 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it is unfortunate that its verdict on police reforms has not been implemented so far, and when some major political situation explodes, then only is it recalled.
The observation was made during the hearing of a petition by Mumbai’s former Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh seeking the CBI immediately conduct an unbiased, uninfluenced, impartial and fair investigation in the various corrupt malpractices allegedly carried out by Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and R. Subhash Reddy said: “No state has effected police reforms… Police reforms have not taken place despite Prakash Singh judgment. When something erupts, then it is recalled.”
The top court’s remark came following submissions from senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Singh, citing allegations made Rashmi Shukla, Commissioner Intelligence, State Intelligence Department, regarding corrupt malpractices in postings or transfers adopted by Deshmukh.
Rohatgi also cited Singh’s transfer in an arbitrary and illegal manner to the Home Guard Department without the completion of the minimum fixed tenure of two years, as Police Commissioner.
“Learned senior counsel also seeks to rely upon the judgment in Prakash Singh & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. (2006) 8 SCC 1. In our view, this is only a mantra recited periodically, wherever the occasion so suits, and there has been no seriousness by all concerned to ever implement the directions enshrined in the judgment,” the court said in its order.
The bench said these directions were based on the principle of insulating police machinery from political/executive interference to make it more efficient and to strengthen the rule of law.
“It appears that none want to give up, inter alia, the control of police transfers or implement measures that would insulate the police machinery from performing its role without any uncalled-for interference,” the top court said.
Justice Kaul said let us not forget the concerned parties were hunky-dory for a long period of time and then things fell apart.
The bench said: “We have no doubt that the matter is quite serious and affects the administration at large. It also appears that a lot of material which has come in public domain is a consequence of the persons falling out.”
At the outset, the court pointed out that Home Minister has not been impleaded as a respondent in the petition. Rohatgi said it appears to be a mistake and that he is willing to forthwith implead Deshmukh as respondent in the matter.
The bench, however, asked Rohatgi to move the Bombay High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution, as the powers there under, if any, are wider.
“If investigation by an independent agency is being sought for, that is a relief which can also be granted by the High Court. There have also been subsequent developments in the matter as has been noticed in terms of the report of Rashmi Shukla, Commissioner, State Intelligence Department. The High Court has the requisite authority to address the same,” it noted.
Rohatgi then agreed to withdraw the petition with the liberty to move the High Court.
Justifying Singh’s transfer, the Maharashtra government had said it was done to ensure a free and fair investigation in the Antilia incident leading to an FIR registered on February 25 with Gamdevi Police Station as a result of a car with explosives being found at Altamount Road near Antilia, the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani.

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