New Delhi: A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana on Thursday decried a “disturbing trend” in India where police side with the ruling party. “Police officers who want to be in the good books of the ruling party misuse power and harass political opponents,” the CJI said.
Holding police responsible for the trend, the SC asserted that police officers must stick to the rule of law. The SC’s sharp message comes when there are wide-spread allegations of police targeting rivals and critics of the ruling party with politically-motivated probes, sedition and other charges.
The observations came when the SC was hearing the plea of a Chhattisgarh cop who was suspended and charged with sedition.
Gurjinder Pal Singh, a 1994 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer and former director-general of Chhattisgarh police, has requested the court to cancel FIRs charging him with corruption and conspiracy against the Chhattisgarh government. His allegation is that the state’s Congress government is hounding him as he was seen to be close to the BJP administration.
Singh was initially booked in the disproportionate assets case following raids at his premises by state’s Anti-Corruption Bureau and Economic Offences Wing. Another case of sedition was invoked against him later on the grounds of his alleged involvement in promoting enmity and hatching a conspiracy against the government.
Heading a bench also comprising Justice Surya Kant, CJI Ramana said, “When cops are working and siding with the party in power then no sedition. But when the party is not in power, then the cops faces sedition charges. This is a very disturbing trend and the police department is also responsible for this.”
The top court’s observations came as it protected Singh from arrest for four weeks in an alleged sedition case but asked him to co-operate with the investigation.
Earlier, senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Chhattisgarh government, told the court that the former DGP was “absconding” and evading investigation.
However, he was countered by senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for Singh, who said that once the charge-sheet has been filed where was the question of investigation. He said that on the contrary the charge-sheet has not been served on him.
The court asked Chhattisgarh government to respond to both the petitions by the former director-general including one seeking transfer of the case to CBI.