Should a Cop Charged with Serious Crimes be appointed to the highest police position in the state? No says top cop Julio Ribeiro who has challenged the appointment of PP Pandey as acting DGP Gujarat
Even as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) turns its back on its own charge sheet in the famed Sohrabuddin encounter case and allows crimes to go unpunished, the state executive – the Gujarat government has been busy re-instating-- in high positions, those policemen charged with crimes including abduction and even murder. Rahul Sharma, senior cop turned lawyer has filed a petition on behalf of super cop Julio Ribeiro, former DGP, Punjab and Ambassador to Romania against Pandey’s appointment. The petition will be heard next Wednesday, April 4 before the Chief Justice, Gujarat.
"It is ridiculous. How can a person, who is facing trial for four murders, be appointed to the top post, as the person facing trial has to be under suspension, according to the All India Services (Conduct) Rules," says 87 year old Ribeiro.
It was just 14 days ago on April 15, that PP Pandey, charge-sheeted by the CBI in a High Court monitored investigation, for offences under the Arms Act and for offences of abduction, wrongful confinement, and premeditated murder of four persons, was –in utter disregard for due process of law—appointed as acting DGP, Gujarat. Before his appointment to a powerful post, Pandey had attended the “"welcome ceremony" for DG Vanzara, re-entering Gujarat after close to a decade. The retired DIG accused in both the Ishrat Jahan and Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter killings was recently allowed by a special CBI court to enter Gujarat. Vanzara’s prejudicial outlook that, under law, constitutes hate speech was recently visible on social media when he asked “Sons of Mughals to Quit India.”
The petition questions the government's wisdom to pick a murder accused police officer as the DGP. Ribeiro has clarified to the media that his stand is based on principle. Filed in the public interest, this legal action challenges the Government of Gujarat, Home Department, notification dated 15.04.2016 entrusting Shri P.P. Pandey, IPS (Gujarat: 1980), Director of the State Anti Corruption Bureau, with the additional charge of the post of DGP of Gujarat State. Such an additional charge is against the Doctrine of Public Trust, is against the law and the express guidelines of the Supreme Court. Moreover, it is likely to defeat the ends of justice and is against the public interest because P.P. Pandey is an accused committed for trial in a case of abduction and premeditated murder. As acting DGP of the state he will have power and control over other policemen who are witnesses in this sensitive case. Several serving police officers who are witnesses in the criminal case, in which P.P. Pandey is a charge-sheeted accused, are subject to his authority and influence, which is likely to adversely affect the judicial process of trial. This is the basis of the petition. Other witnesses can also get influenced.
Rahul Sharma, a practising lawyer in the Gujarat High Court has himself been the object of a conspicuous campaign of vendetta unleashed by the state government. This has been in large measure due to his candour and integrity in testifying in crucial cases related to the 2002 genocidal carnage including the Naroda Patuya Cases and the Zakia Jafri case currently pending in the High Court.
In 2002, it was his bravery in the wake of tremendous pressure that has won Rahul Sharma kudos. The SP of Bhavnagar, Sharma ordered firing on a mob that had attacked a madrasa housing more than 200 children. He was taken to task for this by the deputy home minister Gordhan Zadhaphia who told him, "Your ratio of firing deaths is not proper". That is, Sharma's actions had led to the killing of more Hindus than Muslims unlike elsewhere in Gujarat.
Sharma found himself, once again, at the receiving end of the BJP regime's ire especially after he submitted a batch of Call Data Records to the Nanavati Commission, which was probing the carnage. The records revealed that Modi's ministers and VHP leaders had been in constant touch with police officers as well as rioters. Sharma was charged with violating norms by the Modi government, only to be cleared by the Central Administrative Tribunal. He quit the police soon after to take up legal practice.