Order renders govt. choice redundant
In a dramatic turn of events, the Madras High Court appointed Inspector General of Police A.G. Ponn Manickavel, who retired on Friday, as a Special Officer for a year so that he could continue to head the Idol Wing-Criminal Investigation Department.
Justices R. Mahadevan and P.D. Audikesavulu passed the order a day after the State upgraded the post of chief of Idol Wing to the rank of Additional Director General of Police and posted Abhay Kumar Singh as Mr. Manickavel’s successor.
The judges held that the appointment of another officer by the State would become redundant in view of their order. They made it clear that the officer appointed by the court would be the head of the Idol Wing for the next year.
Though Mr. Manickavel had attained the retirement age of 60 on November 25, the practice followed in the police department allowed him to serve till 12 p.m. on the last day of the month in which he was to retire. Accordingly, he retired from service at 12 p.m. on Friday and got appointed as Special Officer at 1.45 p.m.
The appointment was ordered by the court while allowing two public interest litigation petitions filed by advocate ‘Elephant’ G. Rajendran and activist ‘Traffic’ K.R. Ramaswamy, challenging a Government Order issued on August 1, transferring investigation in all idol theft cases in the State to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The judges quashed the Government Order (GO) on the ground that it amounted to a colourable exercise of power. They came down heavily on the government for attempting to get the cases transferred out of the hands of Mr. Manickavel, who was handpicked by the court last year to head the Idol Wing despite his transfer as IG, Railways.
Suspecting that the government might delay implementation of the present judicial order appointing him as a Special Officer, the court ordered that the IG would assume charge forthwith and function from the “same camp (established in Tiruchi) with the same facilities”. It also directed the government to pass orders to that effect. “It is made clear that any delay by the government in passing appropriate orders shall not curtail the powers of Mr.A.G. Ponn Manickavel, I.P.S., to head the team and investigate the cases and take appropriate action as per law,” the court said. It also gave him liberty to continue with his team and to induct some more personnel if required.
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