Decision to remove DGP cannot be reversed, and a fair investigation cannot be compromised to preserve the reputation of the officers: Himachal Pradesh High Court

Case Title:  Court on its own motion v. State of Himachal Pradesh and Ors.

Case No: Cr.MP. No.79 and 84 of 2024 in CR. WP No.14 of 2023

Decided on:  9th January, 2024


Facts of the Case

The matter centers on a business disagreement between Nishant Sharma, the individual filing the complaint, and a Senior Advocate who is described as an “old acquaintance” of Kundu. Kundu asserts that his interaction with Sharma was merely a friendly telephonic conversation, driven by the principles of police-led mediation. On the contrary, Sharma alleges that Kundu made threats during this communication.

Previously, Kundu had taken his case to the Supreme Court challenging the removal order. However, the Supreme Court instructed him to seek a recall from the High Court.

Legal Provision

Section 341 of IPC talks about Punishment for wrongful restraint. It says- ‘Whoever wrongfully restrains any person shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.’

Section 504 of IPC talks about Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace. It says- Whoever intentionally insults, and thereby gives provoca­tion to any person, intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation will cause him to break the public peace, or to commit any other offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.


Is it appropriate for the Court to overlook its constitutional duty to ensure a fair investigation in this matter, merely on the grounds of safeguarding the reputation of the concerned officers?

Court’s analysis and decision

The Himachal Pradesh High Court declined to reconsider its decision to remove IPS officer Sanjay Kundu from the position of Director General of Police. This decision aimed to prevent any disruption in the investigation related to a businessman’s complaint, expressing concerns about a potential threat to his life from a former IPS officer and a practicing lawyer. Subsequently, Kundu has been assigned the role of Principal Secretary in the Ayush Department by the state, with his retirement scheduled in three months.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua expressed the challenge in determining the veracity of the conflicting accounts. However, the bench pointed out that Kundu’s endeavor to mediate in a civil dispute, involving two parties, extended beyond the responsibilities expected of a senior police officer.

Additionally, the bench acknowledged a particular incident where Kundu was found to be intimidating the officer handling the investigation. Consequently, the bench deemed it unsafe to allow Kundu to continue in his post.

The Court also rejected the petition submitted by Shalini Agnihotri, who had been reassigned from the position of Kangra’s Superintendent of Police. The court stated that there was ample evidence, in the form of CCTV data analysis concerning the alleged attack on Sharma, available to investigators but remained unused. It further mentioned that, given her role as the Superintendent, Agnihotri was expected to display diligence and sensitivity.

The bench also disapproved of her defense, asserting that she was occupied with celebrating important festivals at the time. The court remarked on the inability to comprehend how a responsible police officer could cite such a reason when there was a serious threat to the life of a citizen.

The court declined the request from the officers to shift the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Instead, it instructed the State government to contemplate establishing a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to oversee the inquiry and ensure the safety of Sharma and his family. The court requested a new status report on the case, scheduling it for another hearing on February 28.

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Written by- Afshan Ahmad

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