Nishant Sharma ‘threat to life’ case: HC reserves judgement in HP DGP recall application
Shinls, Jan 6
The Himachal Pradesh High Court reserved its order on Friday after a full day of patient hearing and arguments regarding the recall application on the transfer order of Director General of Police Sanjay Kundu and Superintendent of Police Kangra Shalini Agnihotri. The Division Bench, consisting of Chief Justice MS Ramachandra Rao and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua, reserved the order on the separate recall applications filed by DGP Sanjay Kundu and SP Kangra Shalini Agnihotri. This followed relief from the Supreme Court on January 3, granting an interim stay on their transfers.
The Division Bench heard arguments throughout the day, including submissions from senior counsel Sanjay Jain, representing DGP Sanjay Kundu, and Sr. advocate Sharwan Dogra, representing SP Kangra. The counsels for the state, Advocate General Anup Rattan, and the complainant, along with amicus curiae Neeraj Gupta, and advocate Nishant Kumar Sharma, presented their arguments sequentially, leading the Bench to defer other matters listed for the day to the next dates.
In his submission, counsel for DGP Sanjay Kundu emphasized that his client was not heard by the court before the order against him, raising concerns about his 35 years of reputation in the state police force. Sanjay Jain pointed out that DGP Kundu had filed three complaints against SP Shimla Sanjeev Gandhi, questioning the role of SP Gandhi in his status report as malafide.
DGP Kundu, represented online, highlighted the questions surrounding the role of SP Shimla in the last three months, citing instances where duty expectations were not met, such as the investigation into the Shimla Mall Road fire and the NIA-probed bomb blast later deemed an LPG blast. Sanjay Jain urged the court to recall the December 26 order, arguing that DGP Kundu was not given an opportunity to be heard, as emphasized by the Supreme Court’s partial relief on January 3.
Stating that complaints leveled wild allegations against him, DGP Kundu’s counsel argued that his client acted out of compassion to settle a property dispute, denying any malice or ill will. The counsel asserted that DGP Kundu had not restrained the SPs from providing protection to the complainants and had no involvement with individuals X and Y mentioned in the complaint.
Advocate Sharwan Dogra, representing SP Kangra, clarified that she did not aim to press for the cancellation of the transfer but emphasized the damage to her reputation by the HC order of December 26. Dogra highlighted SP Kangra’s unbiased and diligent duty performance, considering her 12 years of service as an IPS officer. He acknowledged potential dereliction in her duty but insisted her intentions were never to disobey court orders.
Dogra pointed out SP Kangra’s position as the youngest in the police hierarchy among the respondents and stressed her obligation to follow directions from senior IPS officers, including the DGP. He defended the delay in conducting a Preliminary Enquiry (PE), explaining that it was initiated based on the complaint, indicating possible criminal motives arising from a property dispute.
Advocate Anup Rattan, presenting the state’s argument, opposed the recall applications, prioritizing the protection of individuals and the reputation of its officers. He contested the notion that DGP and SP Kangra did not obey the High Court’s order, citing the status reports filed by SP Shimla and Kangra, which demonstrated their best efforts.
Rattan expressed the state’s opposition to transferring the matter to the CBI, emphasizing that the court’s suo moto cognizance should focus on providing protection to individuals’ lives rather than delving into different aspects of property disputes.
Advocate Nishant Kumar Sharma, representing the complainant, criticized SP Kangra for not filing his FIR promptly and not providing a copy, raising questions about the protection provided to him. Sharma detailed threats to his life by a senior lawyer and a retired IPS, highlighting the dire situation he faced when the state DGP was allegedly involved in planning a contract killing against him.
Sharma commended SP Shimla Sanjeev Gandhi for his prompt response and efforts to secure police protection, contrasting it with SP Kangra’s reluctance. He emphasized the irrelevance of the property dispute when considering the need for personal safety.
Amicus curiae Neeraj Gupta argued that DGP Kundu’s recall application lacked clean hands, as he had pleaded before the Supreme Court and this court for not being heard despite being represented by Advocate General Anup Rattan. Gupta suggested that DGP Kundu should have approached this court for recalling the December 26 order instead of going to the Supreme Court.
Gupta highlighted the transformation of a simple criminal intimidation case into a high-profile matter due to the recall application, expressing disappointment in the conduct of state police officers.
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