The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from Kerala Chief Secretary Nalini Netto after the state’s former director general of police TP Senkumar alleged that he had not yet been reinstated to the post despite the court ordering the government to do so. Senkumar’s advocate Dushyant Dave said the the state had mocked the Supreme Court’s April 24 verdict by not following through on the order.
The government’s counsel, however, said the process to give Senkumar his post back was under way and added that they have filed a review petition in the top court. Senkumar was Kerala’s police chief when a massive fire at the Puttingal Temple in Kollam district left 110 people dead on April 10, 2016. He was transferred by the Left government soon after the incident.
On April 24, the apex court had set aside an order by the Kerala High Court backing Senkumar’s transfer, and said he must be reinstated. Senkumar had first appealed to the Central Administrative Tribunal against the transfer, but had lost the case. It then went to the High Court, which upheld the lower court’s ruling.
On Friday, the Supreme Court bench also imposed fined the Kerala government Rs 25,000 for filing a separate application to demand clarifications on the court’s April 24 ruling. On May 3, the Kerala government had moved the apex court, claiming that Senkumar cannot be reinstated as the state police chief because he had never held that position in the first place, but was merely the “head of the police force”, reported The Hindu. The court dismissed this application and said, “This is in bad taste. This proves the allegations of malafide intent against you.”
Senkumar had been appointed to the post by the Oommen Chandy-led United Democratic Front government in 2015, but had almost a year of service left when he was transferred. After the temple fire, Senkumar was accused by the Left Front government, which had come to power by then, of trying to protect police officers responsible for security lapses at the event. Lokanath Behera was given his role and Senkumar was made the chairman and managing director of the Kerala Police Housing and Construction Corporation instead.
On April 11 this year, the Kerala government had defended its decision to transfer Senkumar. The state government had told the court that his transfer was not a punishment for the lapses that had led to the temple tragedy, but for how he had handled the event.
The bench of Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta will take up the matter again on May 9.