New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday questioned the delay by a former UP police chief in seeking modification of its last year's order asking UPSC to consider only those IPS officers for appointing as DGP who have two years of service left.
The apex court reserved its order on the plea of a former Director General of Police of UP, Prakash Singh, alleging that the July 3, 2018 directive was being misused by state governments who were ignoring competent senior officers for appointing DGPs.
"The interim order was passed on July 3, last year. You are filing this (modification) application now," said a bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L N Rao and Sanjiv Khanna.
The court had last July passed a slew of directions on police reforms and restrained all states and Union Territories from appointing any police officer as acting DGPs to avoid favouritism and nepotism in such high-level appointments.
It had taken note of the Centre's submission that some states have adopted a practice to appoint DGPs on the last date of retirement as a consequence of which the person continues for two years after his date of superannuation.
Besides giving due weightage to "merit and seniority", it had directed the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to consider those IPS officers "who have got clear two years of service" for appointment as DGPs.
Singh, on whose PIL the directions on police reforms were passed, has filed a fresh plea before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi alleging that the specific direction that IPS officers should have minimum two years of services left for being considered for the post of DGPs was being used to deny the promotion to "competent" and "honest" officers by states for their vested interest.
"Due to this, brilliant police officers have been overlooked just because they do not have two years of services left. UPSC says that it will not consider these officers," said lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the former DGP. The consequences of the direction were coming to the fore now, Bhushan said and gave the example of Bihar DGP and said that he had resigned and had joined BJP and now, he was allowed to join police force and made the DGP.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, opposed the plea and said that the earlier order was passed keeping in mind the practice of appointing police officers, on the verge of retirement, as DGPs by some states.
Some of the states were adopting a method of appointing acting DGPs which was against the spirit of the apex court judgement on police reforms.
Some DGPs were initially appointed on acting basis and later, they are made permanent just before the date of their superannuation as a consequence of which they continue till the age of 62 years and moreover, they act as per the whims of the state governments concerned, he said.
The top court also reserved order on applications by several states, including Tamil Nadu seeking clarification on the mandatory two year term for the DGPs as per its 2006 judgment.
Some of the states said that this direction has been creating acrimony among senior police officers eligible for appointment to the post of DGP.
Earlier, the apex court had restrained all states and UTs from appointing any police officer as acting DGPs to avoid favouritism and nepotism in such high-level appointments.
Chronicling the steps to be taken for appointment of the police chief, the apex court had said: "All the states shall send their proposals in anticipation of the vacancies to the UPSC well in time, at least three months prior to the date of retirement of the incumbent on the post of Director General of Police".
It said the UPSC should then prepare a panel as per the earlier directions of the court and intimate it to the states, which in turn shall 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 of service left before superannuation, it said.
The apex court, on September 8 last year, 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.
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 that 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.