Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea challenging appointment of S P Vaid as the state's police chief.
A division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad and M K Hanjura said the petition challenging appointment of Vaid as Director General of Police was devoid of merit.
"It is not the seniority that holds the roost in making selection or appointment of the Director General of Police, but the merit that has to prevail and has a binding force," the judges said.
Citing rules, the bench said the post of the DGP is a selection post, the appointment to which is made amongst the officers holding the rank of DGP.
S K Mishra, a senior police officer presently serving as chairman and managing director Jammu and Kashmir Police Housing Corporation had approached the Court challenging Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order that had dismissed his contention against Vaid's appointment.
The Court had reserved the judgment after hearing Mishra's counsel Shuja-ul-Haq Tantry, the state's senior Aditional Advocate General B A Dar, and advocate M Y Bhat who represented Vaid.
The Court held that mere seniority cannot be grounds for challemging appointment of Vaid as DGP, saying a variety of circumstances have to be taken note of particularly in view of conditions prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir.
"It becomes all the more necessary for the State Government to appoint a person to the post of Director General of Police, who has an impeccable integrity, is blessed with professional skills, is conversant with the topography of the entire State and is a fit person to run the police force," the court maintained.
Pointing out that the Cabinet, in its wisdom, found Vaid to be a fit and suitable person to man the post of DGP, the court said therefore, such a decision of the Cabinet cannot be called to question.
Vaid during his service, the court said, has been decorated with a number of medals and appreciations and has mostly served in J&K.
The court said the decision of the Cabinet, on the pedestal of which Vaid was appointed as the DGP was not challenged by Mishra either before the Central Administrative Tribunal or before High court.
Mishra had contended that the government ignored Supreme Court guidelines, did not consider his merit and vast experience, and violated rules.
"In keeping with the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in the judgment delivered in the case titled Prakash Singh and others vs Union of India and others, among three senior officers, top most, meritorious and competent is to be selected for the post of DGP," he had pleaded.
In the judgment dated 22-9-2006, the SC has directed each State Government to establish a State Security Commission to outline the procedure for selection of DGP but Jammu and Kashmir is yet to appoint such a commission.
Mishra submitted that the SC has made it clear that till the Commission is formed, the apex court's guidelines have to be followed in the process of the appointment.
"The Commission is to be formed so that the DGP would be accountable before the rule of law but here (in J&K) cabinet has done it as pick and choose policy and as such there can be no transparency" he pleaded.