The Supreme Court on Monday gave former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh protection from arrest in the cases registered against him, but asked him to join the investigations, Live Law reported.

The court had on November 18 refused to grant him protection until the officer disclosed his whereabouts. The Supreme Court was then hearing a petition against a Bombay High Court ruling, which had dismissed Singh’s plea challenging two preliminary inquiries initiated against him by the Maharashtra government.

The former Mumbai Police commissioner also faces four cases of extortion in Maharashtra.

During Monday’s proceedings in the Supreme Court, Singh’s lawyer senior advocate Puneet Bali said: “Param Bir Singh is very much in the country. There is threat to life from Mumbai Police the moment he touches Maharashtra.”

The court said it was “very disturbing” to hear Singh’s submissions about fearing a threat to his life. “Wonder what would happen to a common man,” the bench said, according to Live Law. “Matter has become curiouser and curiouser in the battle between the then Home Minister [Anil Deshmukh] and the police commissioner.”

In March, Singh had accused Deshmukh of extorting money from owners of bars, restaurants and hookah parlours in Mumbai. A month later, the Bombay High Court had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the allegations.

At Monday’s hearing, the Bombay High Court also said that the only question that needed to be examined is the Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry and “other aspects to be entrusted” to the agency.

Singh’s counsel also submitted that while his plea before the High Court sought a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry, he had been asked to approach the Central Administrative Tribunal, according to Bar and Bench.

Following this, the Supreme Court bench issued a notice to the Maharashtra government and asked it to reply by December 6.

On November 17, a magistrate’s court in Mumbai had declared the former Mumbai Police chief a “proclaimed offender” in the extortion case.

According to Section 82 of the Criminal Procedure Code, proclaimed offenders are accused persons who have a warrant against them and are absconding. Under the section the court can issue a notice to proclaimed offenders to appear within 30 days.

Other allegations against Singh

In October, the Thane Police had registered five FIRs under the Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe (Atrocities Prevention) 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.