Sticking its neck out, the Chandigarh administration has decided not to reconstitute the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) constitution of which has been challenged in the court. The administration had reconstituted PCA on November 8, 2013, after the term of its first chairman and two members expired. Former UT adviser Pradip Mehra was appointed as the chairman, while former UT DGP Pradeep Kumar Srivastava and Zoya R Sharma were named as the members.
The appointment of Mehra as chairman of the authority was challenged by advocate HC Arora and RTI activist RK Garg in the Punjab and Haryana high court, seeking his removal from the post of chairman.
Bone of contention
The petitioners have contended that the PCA has not been reconstituted as per the Supreme Court's judgment in the case 'Prakash Singh and others vs Union of India and others', which states that "district-level authority may be headed by a retired district judge, while the state-level authority may be headed by a retired judge of the high court/Supreme Court. The head of the state-level complaints authority shall be chosen by the state government out of a panel of names proposed by the chief justice; the head of the district-level complaints authority may also be chosen out of a panel of names proposed by the chief justice or a judge of the high court nominated by him."
It is pertinent to maintain here that earlier the PCA functioned under the chairmanship of justice NK Aggarwal (retd).
The Chandigarh administration, on the other hand, maintained that the PCA was reconstituted as per the guidelines issued by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) in 2010.
As per the MHA notification, the PCA comprises the chairperson and two members. The chairperson "may be" a retired high court/ district judge or retired civil service officer of the rank of secretary. While the two members, of which one should be woman, can be a person having 10 years of experience in law, either as judicial officer, public prosecutor, lawyer, or professor of law or a person of repute and stature from civil society.
The petitioners have also sought quashing of the MHA notification.When contacted, UT home secretary Anil Kumar said they have not violated any rule and would stick to the existing PCA, which was reconstituted as per the MHA notification.
He further said the administration had also informed the MHA about its stand on the issue. "Those asking for reconstitution of PCA are not aware of the rules and regulations," the home secretary said. The administration had set up the PCA in August 2010 to inquire into the allegations of serious misconduct, such as death in police custody, grievous hurt, rape or attempt to rape, or any other incident involving serious abuse of authority by the police.
The case will come up for hearing on February 18 before a division bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Arun Palli.
Guidelines of Supreme Court on PCA
The state authority may be headed by a retired judge of the high court or Supreme Court
The head of the authority shall be chosen by the state government out of a panel of names proposed by the chief justice
The authority may be assisted by three to five members depending upon the volume of complaints in different states
The panel may include members from among retired civil servants, police officers or officers from any other department, or from the civil society
Guidelines of MHA on PCA
A retired high court/ district judge or retired civil service officer of the rank of secretary to be appointed as chairperson
For members, a person having 10 years of experience in law, either as judicial officer, public prosecutor, lawyer, or professor of law
A person of repute and stature from civil society can also selected as a member
A retired officer with experience in public administration and a retired police officer of appropriate rank can also selected as a member?