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SC tells UPSC secy to appear before it, asks whether panel prepares list of officers for appointment as DGP

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the UPSC secretary to appear before it Wednesday to apprise it whether the empanelment of IPS officers for promotion as director generals of police (DGPs) in states was being done by the commission.

 SC tells UPSC secy to appear before it, asks whether panel prepares list of officers for appointment as DGP

File image of the Supreme Court. AP

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi sought the presence of the Union Public Service Commission secretary at 10.30 am Wednesday, after lawyer Prashant Bhushan claimed that instead of the UPSC, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) makes the list of senior IPS officers, being considered by state governments for appointment as DGPs.

Bhushan, appearing for PIL petitioner and former DGP Prakash Singh, said that UPSC scrutinises the service records and other credentials of the police officers whose names have been forwarded to the commission. "Before we proceed any further, we would like the secretary of the Union Public Service Commission to apprise the court by tomorrow, that is 16 January, at 10.30 am as to whether empanelment of IPS officers for promotion to the rank of DGP in different states of the Union is made by the UPSC in the discharge of its functions," the bench, also comprising justices L Nageswara Rao and SK Kaul, said.

It said that the information sought be laid before the court by the secretary by appearing personally. The apex court was hearing applications of various state governments, including Punjab, Haryana and Bihar, seeking to implement their local laws regarding selection and appointment of DGP.

At the outset, the bench said that a 2006 apex court verdict on police reforms had said that its directions, including the fixed two-year tenure for DGPs, will remain in force till the states come up up with their laws. "Now the states have come up with the law, the issue is can the court direct that the laws will not be operational. You have also not challenged the laws," the bench said.

"The question will keep coming back. If the legislation is challenged then certainly the court can look into it. How can we stop the law from being functional when there is no challenge," it said. Bhushan said that the law cannot be allowed to flout the directions of the apex court. The apex court had on 12 December, extended till 31 January the tenures of present DGPs of Punjab and Haryana and agreed to hear the states' pleas seeking to implement their local laws regarding selection and appointment of the police chief.

DGPs Suresh Arora (Punjab) and BS Sandhu (Haryana) were due to retire on 31 December and now they will remain in office till 31 January as per the earlier order of the apex court. Several states are seeking modification of the apex court's earlier order directing all the states to mandatorily take the assistance of the UPSC in short-listing the names for appointing DGPs. The top court, on 3 July, had passed a slew of directions on police reforms in the country and chronicled the steps for appointment of regular DGPs.

It had stated that the states will have to send a list of senior police officers to the UPSC at least three months prior to the retirement of the incumbent. The commission will then prepare a panel and intimate the states, which in turn will immediately appoint one of the persons from that list.

Besides Punjab, Haryana and Bihar governments, two other state governments of Kerala and West Bengal have said they have already framed a comprehensive law, dealing with the procedures to appoint the DGP, in pursuance of the 2006 apex court verdict on police reforms. The apex court, while deciding the PIL filed by two former DGPs Prakash Singh and N K Singh in 2006, had issued several directions, including setting up of a state security commission, to ensure the government does not exercise unwarranted influence on the police. It had said the appointment of DGPs and police officers should be merit-based and transparent and officers like DGPs and Superintendents of Police (SPs) should have a minimum fixed tenure of two years.

However, when states enacted laws providing mechanism for DGP selection, the apex court had on 3 July  kept the state laws in abeyance. It had earlier passed a slew of directions on police reforms and had restrained all states and Union Territories from appointing any police officer as acting DGP. The directions had come on an application filed by the Centre in which it claimed that certain states have been appointing acting DGPs and then making them permanent just before the date of their superannuation to enable them to get the benefit of an additional two-year tenure till the age of 62 years.

The top court had ordered keeping in abeyance any rule or legislation framed by any of the states or the Centre running counter to the earlier direction of the court. The court, however, had said that if any state has a grievance with regard to the directions, then they may approach it for modification of the order. The apex court, on 8 September, 2017, had agreed to hear a clutch of pleas observing that its historic 2006 verdict on police reforms, recommending steps like fixed tenures for DGPs and SPs, has not yet been implemented by states and Union territories.

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Updated Date: Jan 15, 2019 21:35:02 IST