Published on: November 20, 2023 at 17:50 IST
The Punjab & Haryana High Court has raised concerns over the appointment of a retired CBI Officer as an Investigating Officer under the Prevention of Corruption Act by the Haryana government.
Justice Vinod S. Bhardwaj questioned the government, stating that the Police Act does not endorse the engagement of a Police Officer on a contract basis.
Justice Bhardwaj highlighted that the Haryana Police Act of 2007 defines a Police Officer as a member of the Police Service of the State, including IPS Officers of the State Cadre.
The court emphasized that a Police Officer must satisfy the status and qualifications as defined under the Haryana Police Act, and the act of engaging a Police Officer on a contract basis is not authorized by the Police Act.
The court pointed out that the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 mandates that investigations related to offenses arising from this act should not be conducted by an officer below the rank of DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police), a Gazetted Officer.
The observations were made during the hearing of a plea filed by Dheeraj Garg, challenging the investigation and proceedings stemming from an FIR against him. Garg contested the appointment of Ramaswamy Parthasarathy, a retired CBI Officer, as the Investigating Officer.
It was argued that Parthasarathy, engaged on a contractual basis, exceeded his role by conducting investigations, filling the case diary, and filing the final report.
The court questioned the government’s reply, noting that there was no reference to the substantive provision of law allowing the engagement of Police Officers on a contract basis.
It emphasized the need for evidence and clarification on how the status of a Gazetted Officer could be conferred on a person engaged on a contract.
The court directed the State Vigilance to withdraw the investigation from the officer engaged on a contract basis immediately. Additionally, it ordered that the charge-sheet filed by the contractual officer as the Investigating Officer should not proceed further, staying the proceedings until the next hearing scheduled for December 16.
Case Citation: Dheeraj Garg v. State of Haryana and Others, 2023