Officers with minimum 6-month tenure left to be considered for post of DGP: Supreme Court

File Photo
File Photo

Officers who have a minimum of six months of service left before retirement would be eligible for empanelment by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for selection to the post of Director General of Police (DGP) in states, the Supreme Court said Wednesday.

Clarifying the top court's July 3 order of last year, a  bench headed by Chief Justice RanjanGogoisaid that recommendation for appointment of DGP by the UPSC and preparation ofpanel should be purely on the basis of merit from officers who have a minimumresidual tenure of six months.

"We, therefore, clarify the order of this court datedJuly 3, 2018….To mean that recommendation for appointment to the post ofDirector General of Police by the Union Public Service Commission andpreparation of panel should be purely on the basis of merit from officers whohave a minimum residual tenure of six months i.E. Officers who have at leastsix months of service prior to the retirement," said the bench, alsocomprising Justices L N Rao and Sanjiv Khanna.

The bench passed the order on an application filed by formerDGP of Uttar Pradesh, Prakash Singh.

Singh had alleged that the July 3, 2018 directive, askingUPSC to consider only those IPS officers for appointment as DGP who have twoyears of service left, was being misused by state governments who were ignoringcompetent senior officers.

He had said that after the apex court's last year order, theUPSC while empanelling officers for consideration for appointment as DGP wasconsidering the minimum residual tenure required to be taken into account astwo years.  

The apex court had in July last year passed a slew ofdirections on police reforms and restrained all states and Union territoriesfrom appointing any police officer as acting DGPs to avoid favouritism andnepotism in such high-level appointments.

In its order passed on Wednesday, the bench referred to the2006 verdict of the apex court which had said that an officer would have aminimum tenure of two years after he or she was appointed as the DGP.

"The direction issued by this court neithercontemplated the appointment of a Director General of Police on the eve of hisretirement nor the practice now adopted by the Union Public Service Commissionin making the empanelment, i.E. Empanelling officers who have at least twoyears of tenure," the bench noted.

"Neither this courthad contemplated recommendation for appointment of officers who are on theverge of retirement or appointment of officers who have a minimum residualtenure of two years. The emphasis was to select the best and to ensure aminimum tenure of two years' service of such officer who is to be selected and appointed,"the bench said.

The court referred to the Police Acts enacted by states andsaid they also do not contemplate any fixed residual   tenure for an officer to be recommended forappointment as the DGP.

"In the above conspectus the object in issuing thedirections in Prakash Singh (2006 verdict), in our considered view, can best beachieved if the residual tenure of an officer i.E. Remaining period of servicetill normal retirement, is fixed on a reasonable basis, which, in ourconsidered view, should be a period of six months," it said.

The bench said, "This will take care of any possibleaction on the part of the state government which can be viewed by any quarteras an act of favouritism." 

The bench made it clear that its direction will "holdthe field" until validity of Police Acts of states are examined and dealtwith by the apex court.

Singh, on whose PIL the directions on police reforms werepassed, had alleged his application that the specific direction that IPSofficers should have minimum two years of services left for being consideredfor the post of DGPs was being used to deny the promotion to"competent" and "honest" officers by states for theirvested interest.

"Due to this, brilliant police officers have beenoverlooked just because they do not have two years of services left. The UPSCsays that it will not consider these officers," advocate PrashantBhushan,appearing for the former DGP, had told the court.

Attorney General K KVenugopal, appearing for the Centre, hadopposed the plea and said the earlier order was passed keeping in mind thepractice of appointing police officers, on the verge of retirement, as DGPs bysome states.

Chronicling the steps to betaken for appointment of the DGP, the apex court had earlier said: "Allthe states shall send their proposals in anticipation of the vacancies to theUPSC well in time, at least three months prior to the date of retirement of theincumbent on the post of DGP".

It had said the UPSC should then prepare a panel as per theearlier directions of the court and intimate it to the states, which in turnshall immediately appoint one of the persons from that list.

The UPSC, while considering the names for empanelment,should look for those people as far as practicable with clear two years ofservice left before superannuation, it said. The apex court on September 8 lastyear had agreed to hear a clutch of pleas observing that its historic 2006verdict on police reforms, recommending steps like fixed tenures for DGPs andSuperintendents of Police (SPs), has not yet been implemented by states andUnion territories.

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