SC allows Gujarat govt to accept DGP Pandey's offer to quit

New Delhi:
 The Gujarat government on Monday told the Supreme Court that the request of Director General of Police (DGP) P.P. Pandey to step down will be accepted immediately.

The bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud were also told that the notification granting Pandey three months' extension till April 30 would also be revoked.

Pandey is one of the accused in the killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Gujarat government, said the state government would accept Pandey's offer to step down, after the bench asked him to either make a statement that Pandey would go forthwith or the court would pass an order.

"Either you make a statement that he (Pandey) will step down forthwith or we will pass an order," Chief Justice Khehar told Mehta as he told the bench that Pandey may be allowed to complete his extended tenure, describing the petition by former Mumbai Police Commissioner J.F. Ribeiro and others as an attempt to "malign the state government".

"He has already retired. It is neither against him nor in his favour", the bench told the Additional Solicitor General.

Assailing the petition, Mehta said that it was being projected "as if some criminal has been selected by the government and made DGP". "The purpose is to malign the state government."

The bench was told that the Gujarat government, on the superannuation of Pandey on January 31 this year, had recommended an extension of six months, but the Centre gave only three months.

Initially asking the court to let Pandey complete his extended term till April 30 and retire gracefully, Mehta told the court that he (Pandey) was in no position to influence the case as charges had not been framed.

Pandey, in his April 1, 2017, letter has said that the issue of granting him extension of service has been "unnecessarily" raised in the Supreme Court by "certain disgruntled elements", "apparently with the ulterior motive of bringing disrepute to the state government as well as the government of India".

Offering to step down, Pandey said in his letter: "In order to put an end to all these controversies and to avoid causing any embarrassment to the government, I am more than willing to step down and I hereby urge the government to revoke their notification (granting three months' extension) with immediate effect."

With the Gujarat government telling the court that Pandey would go immediately, the court disposed of the petition by Ribeiro and others.

Ribeiro had moved the apex court challenging the Gujarat High Court's August 3 order rejecting his plea against Pandey being made an officiating state police chief on April 16, 2016, after the exit of then incumbent P.C. Thakur.

Ribeiro had contended that officers who were investigating Ishrat Jahan encounter case were now serving under Pandey.

Pandey, along with other Gujarat Police officers, was named as an accused in the Ishrat Jahan case. The CBI had filed the chargesheet in 2013, accusing them of conspiracy, kidnapping, murder of Ishrat Jahan and three others.

Pandey headed the Gujarat Police's Crime Branch when the alleged gunfight took place on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in 2004. Besides Ishrat Jahan, others killed in police action were Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar.