The Punjab and Haryana governments on Tuesday argued before the high court that it was not necessary that judicial officer must be head the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), as these authorities were primarily administrative in nature.
Punjab submitted that the authority could thus be best manned by people with a bureaucratic background, while Haryana too said it had not expressly excluded retired judges from consideration for appointment to PCAs.
The submissions were made during the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation seeking quashing of provisions of the recently amended Punjab Police Act and Haryana Police Act that do not envisage appointment of only retired judges as presiding officers of the state and district PCAs.
The amendments in the Act had been made as there was absence of provisions regarding qualifications for appointment as presiding officers and members of these authorities, and also regarding procedure to be adopted for making such appointments.
Haryana submitted that persons with wide knowledge of law and experience of at least 10 years were eligible for appointment as chairpersons of PCA at district level, and those with at least 20 years of such knowledge and experience as chairperson of the state body.
Referring to directions issued by the Supreme Court in a 2006 case that only retired judges had to be made the chairpersons of such authorities, both states said that those directions were applicable only till an appropriate legislation was enacted by the state, and now only the legislation held the field.
The Haryana government also asserted that since these authorities had to discharge administrative functions, and not exercise any judicial powers, it was not needed to provide for appointment of former judges or judicial officers as chairpersons.