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Param Bir Singh's plea challenging PEs can be decided by CAT: Bombay High Court

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Mumbai, May 04: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said it was of the prima facie opinion that the petition filed by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh challenging the two preliminary enquiries (PEs) initiated against him by the Maharashtra government can be adjudicated by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).

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A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale noted that the relief claimed in the petition is related to service matters and hence the jurisdiction lies with the CAT.

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Singh's advocate Sunny Punamiya, however, requested that the petition be adjourned as senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Singh, was not available on Tuesday. "We are of the prima facie opinion that the reliefs claimed in the petition can be adjudicated by the Central Administrative Tribunal. However, the petitioner's advocate wants an adjournment. We find no urgency in the matter and post it for hearing on June 9," the bench said.

Maharashtra government counsel Darius Khambata told the HC that the petition became infructuous and does not survive as the state Director General of Police (DGP) Sanjay Pandey, who was asked to conduct the PEs against Singh, has recused himself given the allegations leveled against him in Singh's plea.

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"The DGP has recused himself. Following this the state government has issued fresh orders setting up PEs against the petitioner. The government is also opposing the plea on maintainability as it is a service-related matter," Khambata told the bench.

Senior counsel Navroz Seervai, appearing for Pandey, told the high court that the DGP recused from conducting the inquiries the day he was given a copy of the petition. "The petition has leveled totally false allegations against him (Pandey)," Seervai added.

Both Khambata and Seervai requested the high court to dismiss the petition saying Singh would have to approach the CAT. The bench, while adjourning the matter, said the pendency of this petition would not be an impediment to Singh to approach the tribunal. In his petition, Singh claimed that he was being targeted and harassed for highlighting the alleged "corrupt malpractices" of former state home minister and NCP leader Anil Deshmukh.

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Singh also claimed that during his meeting with DGP Pandey on April 19, the latter "advised him" to withdraw his letter against Deshmukh which he had sent to the state government. Singh, who in March this year shunted from the post of Mumbai police commissioner and posted as DG of Home Guards, had written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray claiming that Deshmukh had set a monthly collection target of Rs 100 crore to some police officers from bars and restaurants in Mumbai.

Deshmukh had denied the allegations. He resigned last month after the HC ordered the CBI to conduct a PE against him. Singh's petition challenged the two orders passed by the Maharashtra government on April 1 and April 20 directing DGP Pandey to conduct the PEs against him.

The first order was passed by Deshmukh, when he was home minister, for alleged violation of some All India Services (Conduct Rules) and the another order dated April 20 was passed by the present home minister (Dilip Walse Patil) over allegations of corruption leveled against Singh.

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