The Bombay high court on Friday said it will have to hear senior IPS officer and current acting director general of police of Maharashtra, Sanjay Pandey, before passing an order on a petition seeking permanent appointment of an officer to the post.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik said that while earlier this week it had closed the matter for judgment noting that there was no need to hear Pandey, it has later come to the court's notice that there are some direct allegations against the IPS officer in the petition.
“While dictating our judgment in the case, we came across a few paragraphs in the petition where there are certain direct allegations made against Sanjay Pandey. In view of this, we deem it appropriate and necessary to implead Sanjay Pandey as a party respondent in the petition. We will hear him first and then pass our judgment,” the court said.
The court recalled its January 25 order reserving the matter for judgment.
The bench on Friday directed Pandey to file his affidavit in response to the petition by February 4.
The Maharashtra government and the Union Public Service Commission shall also file affidavits if they wish to, the bench said, posting the matter for further hearing.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by a city-based advocate Datta Mane seeking directions to the state government to make a permanent appointment to the post of the DGP.
Mane's counsel Abhinav Chandrachud had argued that as per a judgment passed by the Supreme Court, the post of the state's top police officer could not be an acting one and that an officer with the minimum tenure requirements as per the 2006 ruling must be appointed.
The petition sought that the state government must appoint a DGP as per the recommendation made by the selection committee of the UPSC in November 2021.
Advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, appearing for the state government, had told the court that Pandey, currently the senior most IPS officer in the state, had been appointed as the acting DGP last year after the then DGP Subodh Jaiswal vacated the post midterm following his transfer to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
In the November 1 meeting of the UPSC selection committee, of which the state's then chief secretary Sitaram Kunte was a party, the names of IPS officers Hemant Nagrale, Rajnish Seth and K Venkatesham were recommended for the post of Maharashtra DGP.
Kunte signed off on the three names at the time, but on November 8, he wrote to the UPSC saying that it had erred in not recommending the current acting DGP Sanjay Pandey's name and that it would reconsider the same.
The court had earlier this week noted that Kunte's conduct was not proper and not based on any legal principles.
The bench had noted that it did not behove Kunte to have not raised a grievance or pointed out the error committed, if any, by the committee before signing off on the three names.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, appearing for the Union government, had told the court that once the three names had been recommended, there was no question for the UPSC to reconsider the same.