Supreme Court issues notice to Kerala government on T P Senkumar's contempt plea alleging delay in his reinstatement and fixed the matter for hearing on 9 May
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought response of the Kerala chief secretary on a contempt plea by senior IPS officer T.P. Senkumar, who has alleged delay in his reinstatement as the state police chief despite the apex court’s order.
The court also imposed a cost of Rs25,000 on the Kerala government, which had filed a separate application seeking certain clarifications on its 24 April judgement on Senkumar. A bench of Justices M. B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta issued notice to chief secretary Nalini Netto on the contempt plea and fixed the matter for hearing on 9 May.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Senkumar, told the bench that the state government has “mocked" at the judgement passed by the apex court, which had on 24 April directed reinstatement of the senior IPS officer as the state police chief.
The counsel representing Kerala told the bench that the process to reinstate was going on and the state government has also filed a review petition in the apex court. “That is not an argument. We will see the review petition when it will come up for hearing before us," the bench told Kerala’s counsel.
The state’s counsel requested the bench not to impose cost and said that he would withdraw the application. “We are dismissing it with costs. We are permitting them to withdraw it (application) with a cost of Rs25,000," the bench said.
The bench said that it had not gone into the allegations of malafide raised by Senkumar earlier before it but the state was “somehow confirming" the same by filing such application. The apex court had on 24 April ordered the reinstatement of Senkumar, saying he was transferred by the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) government “unfairly" and “arbitrarily".
Senkumar had on 29 April moved the apex court seeking contempt action against the state government and its chief secretary alleging “wilful, deliberate disobedience" of its order reinstating him. The contempt plea, filed against the chief secretary, alleged there was a “sinister intention" behind her “resolute refusal" to implement the court’s direction and sought strict punishment against her.
“It is reiterated that the contemnor (chief secretary) is the author of the note (to remove him from the post of the state police chief) dated 26 May 2016 and therefore would be reluctant to see the petitioner (Senkumar) receive what is due to him by virtue of this court’s judgement.
“Even if the contemnor finally implements directions, she may at all costs delay the implementation solely to frustrate the petitioner’s cause," the plea alleged. The petition sought punishment to Netto under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1972 for disobedience of the order and referred to a case involving the chief secretary of Karnataka in which the top court had ordered one month imprisonment to the official for not implementing the order.
Senkumar, who is due to retire on 30 June, has also urged the court to extend his tenure as state police chief for the period which was illegally taken from him. “The petitioner was appointed as the state police chief on 22 May 2015 for a period of two years and was removed illegally, as found by this court, on 1 June 2016. Therefore, going by the principles of the judgement of this court in Prakash Singh’s case, the petitioner is entitled for his remaining tenure irrespective of superannuation," the plea, filed through advocate Haris Beeran, said.
Senkumar had said he came across certain media reports indicating that the state government will not act on the judgement unless its certified copy is available to it. Earlier, while reinstating Senkumar, the top court had said no one could help ‘God’s own country’ (Kerala’s tourism tagline) if “it is bent upon making irregular or illegal appointments to sensitive posts".
It had set aside the order of the Kerala high court which had upheld the Central Administrative Tribunal’s (CAT) decision that had not found fault with the state government’s decision to transfer Senkumar from the post of the state police chief which was taken over by Lokanath Behera.
The state government’s contention that Senkumar was transferred as a fallout of the events after the Puttingal Temple tragedy, in which 110 people were killed in April 2016, and the infamous Jisha murder case last May, did not cut much ice with the apex court.
The state government had told the court that Senkumar’s transfer was not a punishment for the “lapse" which had led to the Puttingal fire tragedy incident but it was for how he had handled the fallout of the tragedy and the dissatisfaction among the general public on the efficiency of the police.
The apex court, however, had snubbed the Kerala government and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan by putting questions whether he would remove the police chief if his cabinet colleagues were under investigation in any case.
The Kerala government had on 11 April defended in the apex court its decision to transfer Senkumar, saying he had protected “erring" police officials in the 2016 Puttingal temple fire tragedy in which 110 people were killed.
The court, however, brushed aside the state government’s reference to Senkumar’s interference in the investigation in the Puttingal Temple tragedy and said the reference was somewhat incongruous.
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