Former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh, missing since October, was today granted protection from arrest by the Supreme Court and asked to join investigations into an extortion case against him. His lawyer had said that he is not absconding and is in India.
Four days ago, the Supreme Court had refused to grant the former top cop protection from arrest and had asked for his location.
Param Bir Singh “does not want to abscond and does not want to run anywhere” but faces a threat to his life, his lawyer told the Supreme Court.
“It should not appear to the court that I am afraid. I have full faith in the system. I am ready to appear before a CBI Court. I am being hounded. There are six cases against me. I am suffering. Please grant me protection. I was the senior most police officer and I am not going to run anywhere,” Mr Singh pleaded.
After hearing the lawyer, the Supreme Court said: “The officer shall join investigation. But will not be arrested.”
Mr Singh’s lawyer had said that the “moment he touches the land in Maharashtra he faces a threat from the Mumbai Police.”
“There are people like bookies and others indulged in illegal activities who have filed FIRs against him,” he added.
“If the former police commissioner of Mumbai says that he faces a threat from the Mumbai Police then what kind of message does it send,” questioned Justice SK Kaul.
Mr Singh faces at least four cases of extortion and so far, reports had suggested that he may have fled the country.
He told the court that he learnt from his juniors that Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh was “extorting money” and wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray asking for action. He said he went to the Supreme Court and sought a CBI inquiry.
“In March the DGP (Maharashtra police chief) asked me to withdraw my letter. He asked me to make peace with the Home Minister. I sent that communication to CBI and CBI registered a case against Deshmukh.”
In the previous hearing on Thursday, the Supreme Court had questioned where Mr Singh was.
“Where are you? Are you in this country or outside? In some state? Where are you? We will come to the remaining. First, we need to know where you are,” the court had said.
Mr Singh’s lawyer had he argued that he can “get out of the hole” if he is “allowed to breathe”. The judges responded sharply: “Look at the lack of confidence in the system. He was the police commissioner, but we are not going to treat him any differently. He is seeking protection. Are you saying that he will come to India only if the courts protect him?”