The Bhupinder Singh Hooda government in Haryana doesn't tire of patting itself on the back for being among the first few states to introduce reforms in the state police. But this has not stopped it from ordering premature transfers of Indian Police Service (IPS) officers in complete disregard of Haryana Police Act, 2007, enacted to improve the police working and provide stability of tenure to its key officers in the state.
The state government has issued about two dozen orders for the premature transfer of 12 superintendents of police (SPs) in districts after the Act was notified in June 2008, even though its provisions stipulate a minimum term of one year.
These officers had tenures ranging from mere two months to 10 months in districts before they were moved out, with the case of Vikas Arora, a 1998-batch IPS officer, being the most peculiar.
The IPS officer, currently posted as SP, Rewari, was transferred prematurely six times in a period of three years and four months from June 2008 to October 2011. Last year alone, he was transferred four times from Gurgaon to Faridabad, Rewari, Hisar and then back to Rewari.
Besides, Shrikant Jadhav, Anil Kumar, Subhash Yadav, KK Rao, Sanjay Kumar, Sibash Kabiraj, KV Ramana, Jagwant Singh Lamba, Y Puran Kumar and Vivek Sharma were transferred prematurely in the past three years.
Barring a few orders necessitated by directions received from the Election Commission during the byelections last year, the promotion of an officer and the registration of a case against another following a protester's death in police firing, the other transfers were ordered in a routine manner without specifying any reason.
"The SPs and other police officers are shifted around by the department as per directions from the top. And no reasons are assigned on record even in cases where these do not conform to provisions of the Act. There are several instances where the SP has been prematurely transferred to another district. These orders are against the spirit of the Act which was introduced to safeguard their functioning," a senior police officer said on the condition of anonymity.
As per Section 13(1) of the Haryana Police Act, an officer posted as SP of a district shall have a minimum term of one year. The officer can be transferred prematurely, it adds, in case of promotion to a higher post; or conviction, or charges having been framed, by a court of law in a criminal offence; or punishment of dismissal, removal, discharge or compulsory retirement from service; or suspension from the service; or incapacitation by physical or mental illness; or the need to fill a vacancy caused by promotion, transfer or retirement.
Also, in exceptional cases, an officer may be transferred prematurely from his post for gross inefficiency and negligence or where a prima facie case of a serious nature is established after a preliminary inquiry. Though the circumstances in which the SP of a district can be shifted prematurely are clearly spelt out in the Act, officers have been transferred in a routine manner in most cases.
However, home department officials take refuge under Section 13(1)(f), relating to the "need to fill a vacancy caused by promotion, transfer or retirement", but even they find it difficult to justify the shunting around of an IPS officer six times in 40 months despite the minimum tenure norm.
"The present government has brought some stability in tenure of police officers. A minimum tenure of one year is specified for director general of police (DGP) and inspector general (IG)-rank officer in ranges also. These are being followed, but there are administrative compulsions and even requests from officers sometimes. The grounds of transfers are probably discussed when the postings are decided. These are not put on paper, though," a department officer remarked.
When contacted, financial commissioner, home, Samir Mathur, first promised to give his official reaction within a day. Later, he got too 'busy' with meetings to even respond.