The Supreme Court has backed and upheld the Madras High Court’s appointment of A.G. Ponn Manickavel as the head of Special Investigation Team to probe Idol Theft cases in Tamil Nadu, in response to The State of Tamil Nadu approaching the Apex Court challenging the High Court order contending that Ponn Manickavel after superannuation could not have exercised any power of police officer as entrusted on a police officer under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

This appeal was with regards to the appointment of the aforementioned police personnel, who is retired, and was during the allotment, as a special officer and the head of the Idol-Wing Criminal Investigation Department, thus providing him with responsibilities and privileges not required. This order was passed by Justices R Mahadevan and PD Audikesavulu post the upgradation of the post of chief of Idol Wing to the rank of Additional Director General of Police by the state, and it posting Abhay Kumar Singh as Mr. Manickavel’s successor.

In this appeal issues regarding the power and ability of a high court, under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution, to, in the exercising the jurisdiction, appoint a police officer post-retirement to give such a crucial responsibility entailing the leading and commanding of a special investigation team, for the purposes of investigative procedures and functions, which to mention, can be handled/ exercised by a police officer under the Code of Criminal Procedure, an issue dealt with the bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice KM Joseph.

The bench, however, partly allowed the appeals, by modifying a few directions issued by the High Court. One of the changes being saying that the State shall fix a honorarium to be paid to retired police officer in addition to pension to be drawn by him, whilst also it observing the futility for the High Court to burden itself with concerning itself with the tedious and time-consuming procedures involving submission of various reports and documents to the court. The bench also upheld the High Court order quashing the Government order which transferred all the under investigation cases being investigated by the Special Team constituted for Idol theft cases and all such future cases to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

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