The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh why no first information report was filed in connection with the corruption allegations he levelled against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, Live Law reported.

The court was hearing Singh’s petition for a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry against Deshmukh.

“You are a police officer,” Bombay High Court Chief Justice Dipankar Datta told Singh. “If you find an offence has been committed [when] you are on duty, you are duty-bound to file an FIR. Why did you not do it?”

Datta told Singh that the law was above him. “You are a police commissioner, why should the law be set aside for you?” the chief justice said. “Are police officers, ministers and politicians all above the law? Don’t view yourself so high, the law is above you.”

On March 20, Singh had accused Deshmukh of extorting money from bars, restaurants and hookah parlours in Mumbai. In a letter to Thackeray, the former police chief wrote that suspended Crime Branch officer Sachin Vaze told him that the minister had asked him to collect Rs 100 crore every month through illegal channels.

Singh had also accused the home minister of frequently interfering with police investigations in various cases.

Vaze was sent to the custody of the National Investigation Agency on March 15 for his alleged role in placing an explosives-laden vehicle outside the south Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani last month. Two days later, Singh – who was handling the investigation – was transferred from his position to the low-key Home Guard department by the state government.

Also read: Retired HC judge to inquire corruption allegations against me, says Anil Deshmukh

The court told Singh that simply writing a letter to the chief minister would not suffice. “You are failing in your duty if you don’t file an FIR when you know an offence has been committed,” it said. “We can pull you up for it. If any citizen finds an offence is being committed he is duty-bound to file an FIR.”

Singh’s lawyer Vikram Nankani told the court that these were “hard facts” that came from a person who occupied the highest position in Mumbai, according to Bar and Bench.

He also said only the CBI can conduct an unbiased and fair inquiry against the Maharashtra home minister. “Justice should not only be seen to be done, it should be done,” he added.

The Bombay High Court said that without an FIR, it cannot intervene in the case or direct the CBI to conduct an investigation. “Our prima facie observation is without an FIR, no investigation can be conducted,” the court said. “And can such a prayer be maintainable in PIL?”

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, representing the Maharashtra government, urged the court to dismiss Singh’s petition. He alleged that it was filed with personal vendetta, PTI reported.

During the hearing, the court also suggested that Singh had “an axe to grind against” the minister. However, his counsel said Singh had raised the corruption allegations much before his transfer.

The hearing in the case is still underway.

Last week, the Supreme Court had directed Singh to approach the Bombay High Court with his petition. A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and R Subhash Reddy said the matter is “quite serious” as it affects the administration at large.