SC asks UPSC secretary to appear in court, inform whether panel formed for DGP selection

New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the UPSC secretary to personally appear and inform the court if the commission prepares a panel of senior IPS officers for director general of police (DGP) appointments by state governments.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi sought the presence of the Union Public Service Commission secretary at 10.30 am on Wednesday to ascertain whether the commission makes a panel of senior police officers who are considered for appointment as DGPs.

The direction came after lawyer Prashant Bhushan said the lists of senior IPS officers are not prepared by the UPSC but by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).

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.

The apex court had on December 12 last year, extended till January 31 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 B S Sandhu (Haryana) — were due to retire on December 31 last year and now they will remain in office till January 31 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 July 3 last year, 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 Union Public Service Commission (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 July 3 last year 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 September 8, 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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