The Supreme Court Wednesday refused to stay the Centre's order dismissing Satish Chandra Verma, a senior IPS officer who assisted the CBI in its probe in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, a month before his scheduled retirement.
Verma was dismissed from service on August 30, a month ahead of his scheduled retirement on September 30, after a departmental inquiry found him guilty of various charges including "interacting with public media".
A bench of Justices K M Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy said it was not inclined to interfere with the Delhi High Court order which refused to restrain the Centre on the issue.
"Heard the counsel for parties. We are not inclined to interfere with the order of the High Court refusing to extend stay on disciplinary action against petitioner. We note that it's an interim order. We direct that the petition shall stand listed before the High Court on November 22. The pleadings shall be completed by then. We request the high court to dispose of the matter expeditiously," the bench said.
The court clarified it has not expressed any opinion on the merits of the matter.
At the outset, Verma's counsel submitted the officer has put in 36 years of service and is going to retire on September 30. "At least, let me retire honourably and exit," he pleaded.
The bench then observed, "If you're entitled to succeed you will have your day in court. If you are entitled to justice, you will get it. You have to go through many tribulations, problems but if the truth is on your side it will come to you. Don't worry. But we cannot do it now."
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, objected to the direction to the high court to decide the case in two months and said there is a "darker side to the story".
"Your lordships have heard one side of the story. So far as the time limit is concerned, please fix a reasonable time limit. Pensioners are waiting with unblemished careers," Mehta said.
The Solicitor General had on Tuesday told the top court that following the refusal by the Delhi High Court to grant interim relief to the petitioner another person named Dr. Maheshwar Dayal, IPS, IG, CoBRA Sector has been appointed in the vacancy created by the dismissal of the petitioner and he has taken charge.
Verma had probed the high-profile Ishrat Jahan case of 2004 between April 2010 and October 2011. Ishrat, a resident of Mumbra near Mumbai, and three others, were allegedly killed in a staged encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. The deceased were dubbed as LeT terrorists who were accused of having plotted to kill the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Based on his investigation report, a Special Investigation Team had concluded that the encounter was "fake". The Gujarat High Court had later directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the case and avail Verma's services.
If the dismissal comes into effect, he will not be entitled to pension and other retirement benefits.
The senior police officer was last posted as inspector general with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Tamil Nadu.
Verma had moved the top court after the high court allowed the home ministry to take action against him in the wake of a departmental inquiry that found the charges against him, including that of "interacting with public media" when he was the chief vigilance officer of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation, Shillong, to be true.