PIL against cop alleging links with underworld is motivated: HC



Mumbai: Describing it as "motivated", the Bombay High Court on Friday dismissed a PIL alleging links of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Sudhakar Poojari with the underworld and praying for action against him.

Poojari, who is now posted in Kalina police training Centre in suburban Santacruz, defended himself in person saying he was being targeted by accused in the 2001 MPSC scam, which he had investigated.

A bench headed by Justice AM Khanvilkar also imposed exemplary costs of Rs 50,000 on the petitioner Deepak Suryakant Kavitkar, president of National Amnesty Redemption Organisation International Trust, an NGO based in Pune.

The court asked the petitioner to pay the costs in the State Treasury Account for police department within two weeks from today. If he failed to do so, the Pune Collector was asked to take steps to recover the amount from him as arrears of land revenue within two months and remit it in the same account.

The judges said the petition was filed by Kavitkar but during arguments the person who was briefing the lawyer was BS Kadam. He is the same person who has filed a miscellaneous application and has been named as accused in MPSC examination scam.

"As regards the affiant, who has verified this petition for filing it as PIL on behalf of the organisation, the public prosecutor, stated that he is an offender in some cognisable cases registered against him. Copies of two FIRs registered against him were produced before us. Further, in one case registered in 2009, non-bailable warrants are pending against him. In other words, he is an absconding accused," the court observed.

"If the petition is filed by a fugitive claiming reliefs for himself, it is well settled that the court must be loath to entertain the same. It will be preposterous to entertain a PIL at the instance of such person alleging acts of commission and omission of the police officer, who investigated the MPSC examination scam," the judges noted.

The PIL cannot be allowed to be used to impair the trial of a criminal case regarding the MPSC examination scam or to influence the inquiry process in any manner, they said while imposing costs of Rs 50,000 on the petitioner.

The court also rejected another petition filed by Avinash Sanas, accused in the 2001 MPSC scam, making same allegations of Poojari having links with underworld and seeking his prosecution under MCOCA.

The court rejected the petitioner's plea to ask the Maharashtra Government to accord sanction to prosecute Poojari under the stringent law of MCOCA and section 197 of CrPc. The PIL had alleged that police had in their possession a CD which had recorded telephonic talks of Poojari with the underworld.

The judges noted that a special MCOCA court, dealing with the private complaint filed by MPSC accused Avinash Sanas on the same issue, has already dismissed the said complaint vide order dated November 6, 2004.

The judges noted the Mumbai Police Commissioner in his report on October 28, 2004, has recorded his subjective satisfaction that no prima facie case was made out from the material placed before him to indicate involvement of Poojari for the alleged offence under MCOCA.

Therefore the special court had taken the view that the complaint against Poojari cannot proceed for want of sanction.

"In any case, that order cannot be permitted to be challenged by way of PIL. The subtle attempt of the Petitioner is to keep the accusation made against Respondent No 7 (Poojari) pending for reasons best known to them.

"That would inevitably help the accused named in the MPSC examination scam. Any observation made with regard to the factual matrix referred to in the present petition would inevitably help the accused persons named in the said offence," the court said.

"We are more than convinced that the present petition is a subterfuge and an attempt to create gloss in the guise of PIL by using the screen of so called NGOs. It is intriguing as to how these NGOs got access to voluminous official documents filed along with the successive PIL, running into around 500 pages and incidentally, filing the petitions through the same Advocate," it observed.

"We are inclined to accept the argument of the state that the banner of NGOs is being used to invite finding of this court which may be useful for the defence of the accused in the MPSC examination scam case, which is pending trial, by attacking the integrity of Respondent No 7 (Poojari) who was the investigating officer of that case," the court said.

The court also rejected the prayer for a direction to Maharashtra Government to implement the recommendations of J D Virkar, the then Director General of Police (Anti-Corruption Bureau) in 2005 and 2006 to initiate action against Poojari.

The court felt this essentially is a service matter, in respect of which PIL should be eschewed. At the same time, the judges said, it has come on record that inquiry in respect of the circumstances referred to in communications of Virkar, including alleged links of Poojari with underworld, has been inquired into at the departmental level and it was decided that no action was necessary against him.

"However, departmental proceedings have since been revived in the wake of opinion expressed by the Police Commissioner in his office order dated September 16, 2010, copy whereof was produced before us, directing denovo inquiry," the judges noted.

"In that case, the prayer under consideration is worked out. In the said inquiry, we have no manner of doubt that all aspects will be considered in accordance with law. Accordingly, we decline to entertain even this prayer, in the fact situation of the present case, assuming that such prayer could be entertained in a PIL", the bench observed.

During the course of hearing, the judges had summoned Additional Commissioner of Police Niket Kaushik to personally appear and assist the Court in informing whether an inquiry had been conducted against the officer for alleged underworld links and if yes then what was the outcome of the probe.

PTI