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Uttar Pradesh turns battleground for quarrelling IAS, IPS officers as state's administration plummets to nadir

A well-gelled administration is non-negotiable for the smooth functioning of a state and more so in a critical and huge state like Uttar Pradesh.

However, the state's administration seems to be falling apart as it's plagued by a plethora of issues, from egos of senior officers to unwarranted political intrusions.

Ghaziabad district collector Ritu Maheswari. Image courtesy @gdagzb

Ghaziabad district collector Ritu Maheswari. Image courtesy @gdagzb

Dipping bonhomie between district magistrates and senior superintendents of police in many districts of Uttar Pradesh has become so evident that their squabbles at times become big enough to grab headlines, reflecting on the poor shape of administration in the state.

Of late, Ghaziabad district magistrate Ritu Maheshwari is at loggerheads with the district police chief senior superintendent of police Vaibhav Krishna after he transferred three station house officers allegedly without her permission. Maheshwari immediately shot off a letter to the police officer warning him of serious action for his failure to secure necessary approvals.

Krishna took offence in the manner as the letter was drafted by the district magistrate and not only responded to it by raising objections but also apprised his seniors on what transpired. He even put a request with the Uttar Pradesh DGP and principal home secretary, seeking his own transfer from the district for the sake of better administration.

The root of this tussle is a letter drafted by the Principal Home Secretary Arvind Kumar on 9 May, making it mandatory for SSPs to take written permission from the district magistrate before transferring any policemen in the concerned district.

The order triggered serious resentment among IPS ranks and the IPS Association strongly opposed the move. Following the remonstrance from the IPS cadres, another order was passed in which it was made clear that SSPs will transfer policemen in the district in ‘consultation’ with the district magistrate.

However, in some districts, this process of ‘consultation’ has snowballed into a serious tussle of power between the two top officers in the districts as they are interpreting the order in their own ways.

Another situation, if not completely akin to the one in Ghaziabad, was seen in Noida a few days back after ten policemen were transferred by Gautam Budh Nagar SSP Ajay Pal Sharma and the file was sent to district magistrate BN Singh for approval. The district magistrate refused to sign the file on the pretext that why his prior approval was not taken before transferring those policemen. This happened after the transferred cops had already joined their new places of posting. The refusal by the district magistrate to give his nod created a vacuum within the administration in the district leading to chaos as neither party backed down.

This scrimmage between the two officers only made scapegoats out of the 10 policemen as they were clueless about what to do next. This matter was again highlighted by the media and IPS Association demanded complete independence in the matter of transfer and postings of policemen within a district.

Some IPS officers accept the fact that there is a legal provision to take approval from the district magistrate but all decisions related to transfer and postings of cops are taken by the superintendent of police alone in the district. This is being practised since the beginning and district magistrates give approval to the decision formally or informally.

"Practice too becomes a part of the law over a period of time and any change in this practice will hamper the smooth functioning of the administration," an Inspector General of Police-rank officer in Uttar Pradesh told Firstpost on condition of anonymity. He further said that this is an old practice and the IAS and IPS officers should not fight over the issue.

Former Uttar Pradesh DGP Prakash Singh believed that all depends on the relationship between the two top functionaries in the district. If there is no ego clash then such issues never arise. In his time as well this sort of clashes used to be there in some districts but it was never reported as the media wasn't big enough as it is today.

"IAS and IPS officers should sort out the issue cordially and they should refrain commenting before the media. However, there is clear direction from the Supreme Court in its order that the police officer (SP or SSPs) has the right to transfer the Deputy SP rank officers independently but this has not been implemented in the state till date," said Singh.

A senior IAS officer, who preferred to remain anonymous, said, "The role of district magistrate in the district is to supervise the law and order as well. The establishment in the state also holds the district magistrate responsible for the deterioration of law and order in a district. The cause of tussle is not the law but the communication gap which leads to an ego clash between the superintendent of police and the district magistrate."

Apart from the infighting within the administration, there is another element that worsens the situation which is political interference in the form of ruling party leaders and cadres revolting against serving officers. This was clearly visible in Meerut where commissioner Prabhat Kumar had to face the ire of ruling party leaders and cadres for alleged misbehaviour which ultimately resulted in his transfer.

The recent murder of gangster Munna Bajrangi inside a jail not only exposes the lack of security but also to the pathetic levels to which the administration in the state has gone down to.

That arms were smuggled inside the jail to commit the crime is clearly symptomatic of how things are running in prisons despite the victim and his family members raising concerns over his safety earlier. The investigating officer has pointed out that arms were smuggled through food packets.

"There is no doubt that there is a shortage of staff and infrastructure in almost every jail and it requires massive help from the government to improve the condition but to smuggle arms to kill a prisoner is clearly indicative of the total failure of the jail administration," Singh said.


Updated Date: Jul 18, 2018 07:43 AM

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