Former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh is not traceable, the Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Wednesday, Live Law reported.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Singh to quash first information reports registered against him by the Thane Police under the Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe (Atrocities Prevention) Act.
During a hearing of the case on October 2, the Maharashtra government had told the court that it would not take any coercive action against Singh, including an arrest, till October 20.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Senior Advocate Darius Khambata, representing the state government, said that it was not willing to extend Singh’s protection from coercive action.
“In view of other developments, we are getting reports that he is not traceable,” Khambata said, according to Live Law. “We cannot give [a] statement [on extension of protection from coercive action].”
Singh’s counsel Mahesh Jethmalani argued that the former Mumbai police chief has not yet been declared as absconding by the state government, The Indian Express reported. He contended that Singh should get protection from coercive action as he had responded when summoned in the SC/ST atrocities case.
The whereabouts of Singh, who is an accused in multiple other cases, have been unknown for a while now. There is speculation that he might have fled India.
On October 1, Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil had said that the state government was searching for Singh, who is facing a bailable warrant issued by an inquiry commission.
The commission headed by retired Bombay High Court judge Kailash Uttamchand Chandiwal has been formed to investigate the corruption allegations levelled by Singh against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
Singh had accused Deshmukh of extorting money from owners of bars, restaurants and hookah parlours in Mumbai. In April, the Bombay High Court had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the allegations.
In addition to this matter, the Maharashtra Police have also filed four extortion cases against Singh.
In the case that the Bombay High Court was hearing on Wednesday, the Thane Police had registered five FIRs under the SC/ST Act, the Civil Rights Protection Act and the Maharashtra Police Act against Singh and 32 others based on a complaint from Police Inspector Bhimrao Ghadge.
Ghadge had alleged that Singh, while he was posted as the Thane police chief in 2015, had asked him not to chargesheet certain persons against whom FIRs had been registered. Ghadge also alleged that he was suspended for refusing to follow Singh’s orders.
He had subsequently approached the State Human Rights Commission against Singh, but was not granted relief. In 2018, he approached the Bombay High Court.
In response, Singh had said that the Maharashtra government was pursuing the cases to pressure him into withdrawing his corruption allegations against Deshmukh.