Delhi High Court refuses stay of termination of IPS officer who probed Ishrat Jahan encounter case

The high court cites his impending date of superannuation as a reason for refusing stay.

THE Delhi High Court on September 26 refused to stay the Union Government’s order dismissing Gujarat cadre Indian Police Service officer Satish Chandra Verma, who was once part of the special investigation team that probed the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. A division bench of Justices Sanjeev Sachdeva and Tushar Rao Gedela said, We have perused the contents of the transcript of the interview that has been placed on record as also the enquiry report. We are of the view that at this stage the order of termination dated 30.08.2022 does not warrant any interference as petitioner is to superannuate, in any event, on 30.09.2022.”

On September 19, the Supreme Court had stayed Verma’s termination for a week, leaving it for the High Court to decide whether the stay of the order was to continue beyond a week.

Verma faced disciplinary proceedings for interacting with the news media in March 2016 when he was Chief Vigilance Officer, North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited, a central public sector enterprise in Shillong, without any authorization of the competent authority. He made statements to the media about his role in the Ishrat Jahan probe. However, the charge memo against him for this media interview was issued in August 2018, almost after two and a half years after the publication of that interview.

Verma had challenged the framing of charges against him at the Delhi high court. On September 22, 2021, the high court directed that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (‘MHA’) could proceed with disciplinary proceedings against Verma; however, it was not to take any precipitative steps, in the meantime. This order was periodically extended till August 30 this year, when the direction was modified on the statement made by the senior counsel for the MHA that the disciplinary proceedings had been concluded and the competent authority was to pass a final order. The MHA was permitted to pass a final order; however, it was directed that till the next date of hearing, the final order, if prejudicial to the petitioner, shall not be implemented without the leave of the court.

Eventually, on September 7, the high court permitted the MHA to implement the dismissal order, observing that “without prejudice to the challenge to the charge-sheet in the subject proceedings, respondents are permitted to implement the order. However, 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”. This order was challenged by Verma in the Supreme Court, which resulted in the stay of the termination order for a week.