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Gujarat HC rejects IPS officer Sharma's plea

August 12, 2011 18:05 IST

Gujarat High Court on Friday rejected IPS officer Rahul Sharma's petition seeking details of the grounds on which he was served a show cause notice by the state government in February this year over providing phone call records related to the 2002 riots.

Justice Abhilasha Kumari, hearing the case, said the court did not find it appropriate to interfere when an alternative statutory provision for appeal was available to the petitioner.

The petition also does not disclose violation of any fundamental rights of the petitioner, the court added.

Sharma, a DIG rank officer, was served the show cause notice by the state Home department on February 5, asking why he should not be chargesheeted for giving CDs containing the 2002 riots phone call records to various agencies, including the Nanavati Commission and the SIT, without government authorisation.

In his petition filed on Thursday, Sharma said when he asked the state government on what grounds was he issued a show cause on the matter, it refused to give him information regarding the same.

During the proceedings, Justice Kumari observed that some of the directions sought by Sharma were related to the show cause notice and it pertained to service matters.

She declined to entertain these prayers saying that she was not assigned to deal with service matters.

Following this, Sharma's lawyer Mukul Sinha said he would not like to press for those prayers relating to service matters and sought permission of the court to approach the appropriate authority.

The other prayers sought by Sharma were related to rejection of his application seeking information under Right to Information Act.

After hearing the arguments of Sharma and the state government on the matter, the court said the IPS officer was free to approach the appellant authority of the RTI Act and appeal against the order of the public information officer (PIO) of the state Home department, denying him information that he has sought under the RTI Act.

In the show cause notice issued to the officer, Sharma, who was posted as deputy commissioner of police (Control) of Ahmedabad city during the post-Godhra riot period, has been charged for misconduct under Rule 3(1) of All India Service Rules, 1969.

He has been further charged of not giving CDs containing the telephone call records collected from mobile phone operators -- AT&T and Cellforce -- to the investigation officer probing the Naroda Patia and Gulburg society cases.

The show cause notice said Sharma did not even mention the existence of CDs in the case diaries as he was helping in investigations of these cases. These amounts to violations of section 170 A of police manual, and section 3 (1) of All India Service Rules, it said.

The notice further said that Sharma did not deposit the CDs with his superiors after he was transferred from the post, which shows that his conduct was unbecoming of an IPS officer.

Counsel Sinha, on behalf of Sharma, argued that once the government had issued the IPS officer a show cause, they had to know what was the preliminary investigations and what evidences were collected based on which the notice was served.

Sinha further said all documents and information upon which the state government has relied to issue the notice should have been provided to Sharma, without which the officer would not be able to give an adequate reply to the notice.

He further said that the state government took four and half months time to reply to Sharma's letter seeking documents in detail on which the show cause notice was issued.

The state government argued that Sharma had initiated simultaneous demands for information through the department of Home and also by using RTI.

Government pleader P K Jani said that the state Home department had given Sharma two days -- July 8, 2011 and July 28 -- to inspect the documents which he did.

However, his application under RTI was rejected by the PIO of Home department on March 11, he said.

Jani further contended that after his RTI application was rejected, Sharma did not appeal against the order even after he was informed that he can approach higher avenues against the order.

He further said Sharma's action show that his intentions were to protect himself from any impending action which could follow after the show cause notice and thereby create an impression that the state has denied him his rights.
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