JK’s ‘arbitrariness’ in top cop’s selection
SC Guidelines Not Followed In Letter And Spirit
Srinagar, Sep 19: While the Jammu and Kashmir Government is still to comply with the first Supreme Court directive on police reforms which calls for establishment of the State Security Commission [SSC], it is yet to fully follow the second directive on selection of the state’s top cop. While the directive says the Director General of Police shall be selected by the state government from amongst three senior-most officers of the Department empanelled for promotion to that rank by the Union Public Service Commission [UPSC], the top cop for the state is still “empanelled by the central government”—something clearly admitted by the state government in its affidavit to the Supreme Court in 2007.
The Apex Court directive, delineated in Prakash Singh case of 2006 on police reforms, says the Director General of Police of the state shall be selected by the State Government from amongst the three senior-most officers of the Department who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the Union Public Service Commission on the basis of their “length of service, very good record and range of experience for heading the police force.” “And, once he has been selected for the job, he should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation. The DGP may, however, be relieved of his responsibilities by the State Government acting in consultation with the State Security Commission [SSC] consequent upon any action taken against him under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules or following his conviction in a court of law in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption, or if he is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his duties,” the directive reads.
While the state government has, in its affidavit, argued that a state DGP has more than two years of service as DGP, it says the top cop “is empanelled by the central government”, when it should be the UPSC. Further, it is argued that the affidavit is silent on the selection criteria of the DGP set out by the Apex Court.
“To ensure a modern, professional, efficient, and service-minded police organisation, it is crucial that the head of the organisation is selected based on merit and experience.”
However, the affidavit is silent on the objective criteria to be used for the termination of tenure of a DGP. The Apex Court clearly set out three exceptions as to when to terminate the DGP’s tenure. It is desirable that these exceptions are reiterated in a Government Order or Circular to ensure that the tenure is not subject to unwarranted political interference or subjective opinions,” says Maja Daruwala, Director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative [CHRI], which has been on the forefront of campaigning for police reforms in the state.
Interestingly, in Jammu and Kashmir, the present top cop and some former police chiefs have served for more than three years, but it is often argued that the top cops are not selected or terminated as per the apex court guidelines.
“There is arbitrariness in the appointment of the highest ranking police officer. Appointments made on considerations of personal preference and the post is held at the caprice of the political executive leading to uncertainty of office and tenure. To ensure that there is no arbitrariness in the appointment of the highest ranking police officer, the Supreme Court has laid down the procedure for selecting the Director General of Police (DGP) which ought to be followed,” says Daruwala.
In complying with this directive, it was deemed important that state governments give more detailed selection criteria: “Assessment of the performance appraisal reports of the previous 15 years of service by assigning weight to different grading, namely outstanding, very good, good and satisfactory; [Absence of] indictment in any criminal or disciplinary proceedings or on the counts of corruption or moral turpitude; or charges having been framed by a court of law in such cases; Due weight to award of medals for gallantry, distinguished and meritorious service.”
Once objectively chosen, the DGP is assumed to enjoy the trust of the political executive, the police service and the public. “It would be anomalous to retain the ability of the executive to remove the head of police at will. The Supreme Court provides for a minimum tenure of two years for the DGP. In practice, this does not mean that erring DGPs cannot be removed, it only makes removal consequent on laid-down grounds in law,” the directive says.
According to sources, there has been a steady and gradual weakening of the normal chain of command resulting from unauthorised interference with police work by political and other extraneous sources. “To restore the capacity of the police as an organisation to resist such pressures and illegal or irregular orders, it would be extremely useful if the Chief of Police is assured of a statutory tenure of office, without the sword of transfer hanging over his head all the time, subject to political whim. Such tenure of office will strengthen his position and enable him to stand up effectively against such pressures on the system,” says a former police officer, wishing anonymity.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 19 Sep 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 19 Sep 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 20 Sep 2011 00:00:00 IST
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