Appeals court stays dismissal of Gujarat cadre IPS officer who investigated Ishrat Jahan’s encounter

PROVIDING an interim relief IPS official Satish Chandra Verma that had been exiled from service one month prior to retiring and was later dismissed, the Supreme Court on Monday granted a week’s suspension of his dismissal decision.

The court clarified that, after a week, it is the Delhi High Court to decide whether or not it is appropriate to continue with the suspension. The justices bench of justices K M Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy granted Verma to make the appropriate modifications to his petition that is pending in the Delhi HC challenging the disciplinary procedures instituted in 2016 by the Union Home Ministry 2016.

Verma was a 1986-batch IPS officer who had been involved in numerous disputes between the Gujarat government as well as the Centre and was set to be retired at the close of the month. The last time she was posted in the post of IGP for Coimbatore’s CRPF Training College in Coimbatore, Verma had assisted the Special Investigation Team (SIT) which was set up by the Gujarat High Court to probe the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter investigation.

Based on his report the SIT concluded that the incident occurred as a “fake”. It was the Gujarat High Court that subsequently entrusted the investigation to the CBI.

Verma was removed from service on the 30th of August just a month before his superannuation date, for a variety of charges, including his alleged statements with the media “unauthorisedly” in 2016 on the Ishrat-Jahan case as well as the questioning of R V S Mani, the former Under Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

In July of 2016, months after an interview with DeccanEra in which Verma described the Ishrat Jahan killing as a “premeditated murder”, Verma who was then the CVO, then Chief Vigilance officer (CVO) for the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) was removed of the post.

In December of 2016, The Indian Express also released details of a story by Verma that contained allegations that there was an “elaborate conspiracy”, allegedly with a family member of the Minister of State at the time, Home Kiren Rijiju as well as Contractors, NEEPCO officials and local officials in the building of two dams to support the 600-MW Kameng Hydro Electric Project in Arunachal Pradesh.

In the report, Verma was alleged to have found that overinflated bills were presented to fraudulently defraud authorities like the PSU as well as the state of money. Rijiju along with officials from the Power Ministry denied the charges.

In September 2021 in September 2021, The Delhi High Court, which was hearing Verma’s appeal against the chargesheet given to him, permitted the authority for disciplinary to proceed with the proceedings, but it directed him not to make any “precipitative steps” against him.

On August 30, this year the section bench in the High Court permitted the passing of the final order following the Centre declared that the disciplinary process was completed

On the 6th of September On September 6, the Centre filed a petition before the High Court, seeking to be granted the right to make the decision of the disciplinary authorities to remove Verma from service.

Allowing the Centre to enforce the order the division bench stated, “it is directed that the order shall not be implemented till 19.09.2022, to enable the petitioner to avail of his remedies in accordance with law against the order of dismissal.”

Presenting before Verma on Monday the Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal told Verma that the date for his retirement was on September 30, whereas the HC was unable to adjourn his plea to retire in January of next year. In a statement, he said that his petition could be infructuous at that point and he demanded to have the issue moved to SC or that the hearing at the HC be moved.

Attorney General Tushar Mehta, who appeared on behalf of the Centre He pointed out that the officer has not appealed the dismissal order until now. The bench was asked what Verma could go about contacting the HC before he exhausted his options through the Central Administrative Tribunal.

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