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Homechevron_rightKeralachevron_rightGovt defends in SC its...

Govt defends in SC its decision to transfer ex-DGP Senkumar

Govt defends in SC its decision to transfer ex-DGP Senkumar

New Delhi: The State government Tuesday defended in the Supreme Court its decision to transfer former state DGP T P Senkumar, saying he had protected "erring" police officials in the 2016 Puttingal temple fire tragedy in which 110 people were killed.

The state government told a bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Kumar that Senkumar's transfer was not a punishment for the "lapse" which had led to the April 10, 2016 incident but it was for how he had handled the fallout of the tragedy.

"This is not a punishment for the lapse which led to the incident in which 110 people were killed. This is a punishment for how the police chief (Senkumar) handled the fallout of the incident," senior counsel Harish Salve, representing the state government, told the bench which reserved its judgement.

On April 10 last year, when Senkumar was Kerala's Director General of Police, there was an explosion leading to a blaze after a fireworks display went awry at Puttingal temple in Kollam district. 110 people had died while over 300 were injured in the incident.

During the hearing, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the IPS officer, countered the state's submissions and said there was no "dereliction in duty" on Senkumar's part.

The ex-DGP had said in his note sent to the government that instead action should be taken against some of the policemen in connection with the incident, he said.

"I (Senkumar) am not trying to protect anybody," he said.

However, Salve said that being the state police chief, he had tried to protect some of the policemen instead of taking action against them for the tragedy after which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also visited the site along with a team of doctors.

"110 people had died. There was serious dissatisfaction among the public. The prime minister went there. He went there to instill confidence in the public that the Government of India was giving full attention," he said.

The apex court has reserved its order on Senkumar's plea challenging the Kerala High Court's verdict that had upheld the Central Administrative Tribunal's (CAT) order which had not found any fault with the government's decision to transfer him.

During the proceedings, Salve also argued that Senkumar had made certain "public utterances" after the temple incident which he should not have stated being the police chief.

When the bench asked if the commissioner of police suspended was after the incident, the senior counsel said that an SIT is probing the matter.

He also referred to the government file notings and said, "He (Senkumar) was expected to evaluate the performance of his subordinate officers."

The former DGP's counsel had earlier argued that Senkumar has an unblemished career and the state government had not consulted the state security council before transferring him from the top post and appointing him as the head of the state's police housing corporation.

They had argued that other than Senkumar, 90 other police officers were also transferred or shifted from their post after the present government took charge.

The CAT had not found any fault with the 2016 decision of the LDF government to transfer him from the post of DGP to the post of chairman and managing director of Kerala Police Housing and Construction Corporation.

Senkumar, in his appeal, has alleged that his transfer was an act of political vendetta as he had investigated various political murders involving the ruling party.

"The high court failed to take into consideration the fact that in a prominent murder case of 2012, where a local leader T P Chandrashekharan was killed wherein after investigation, helped by the petitioner as ADGP, several party members and leaders of the political party forming the present government were held guilty and therein sentenced to imprisonment," he has said.

Senkumar was transferred on the ground of his alleged inaction in the infamous Jisha murder case and Puttingal fireworks tragedy.

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