NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Tuesday set aside a Karnataka High Court order indicting the state's then police chief Shankar Mahadev Bidari, terming him worse than Saddam Hussain and Muammar Gaddafi, and directing his removal from the post.
A bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice C.K. Prasad said the state, however, was free to appoint anyone of its choice as the director general of police (DGP). Bidari is due to retire May 31.
The high court, while affirming order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and directing Bidar's removal, had ordered the appointment of A.R. Infant as the director general of police, in his place.
The apex court also suspended the operation of the order of the CAT, which too had ruled against the appointment of Bidari as the DGP.
It said that the matter is being remanded to the high court for fresh consideration and that the high court should decide the matter before May 31 when both Bidari and Infant are retiring from service on that date.
The CAT and the high court had set aside the appointment of Bidari as DGP on the grounds that the state government had not provided the full material to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) concerning him.
It was contended that the report of Justice Sadasivam Inquiry Commission and that of National Human Rights Commission that looked into the allegation of excesses against tribals by personnel of Joint Special Task Force led by Bidari against sandalwood smuggler Veerappan was not placed before the UPSC for preparing panel of officers for appointment as DGP.
Holding that the reports inquiry panel and that of NHRC were not relevant for the consideration by the UPSC for preparing a panel of three senior most Indian Police Service (IPS) officer for appointment as Karnataka DGP, the apex court said: "Prima facie we find it difficult to hold that there was any adverse comment against Bidari, much less any personal indictment even for some of the atrocities committed on tribals" by the security personnel under his command.
It said that it was remanding the matter back to the high court as the apex court would go for summer break and the matter may be decided before May 31 whn both Bidari and Infant are retiring.
The court described as "too wide a proposition" the stand of senior counsel Altaf Ahmed, appearing for Infant, that since Bidari was leading the security personnel in the operation, therefore he could not escape the consequences of their conduct.
Justice Prasad said that it amounts to saying that "if a civil court judge does something then the chief justice of the high court should be made answerable for that".
Justice Alam said that "If that logic had to be applied then for every encounter (gunfight) the director general of police be held responsible."
The court described as "weakest" that part of the high court order wherein it made adverse and critical comments on Bidari.