The de-politicisation of the Punjab Police at the grassroots appears to have finally begun. Following directives of director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini, 128 officers - 36 station house officers (SHO) and 92 police post in-charges allegedly appointed at the behest of the area MLAs - were transferred on Friday.
Over the past few years, an impression has gained ground that the senior superintendents of police (SSPs) or district police chiefs do not have the authority to even appoint SHOs and police post in-charges without the consent of the local MLA.
Particularly in the past two years, there were often allegations that police stations were being controlled by ruling party MLAs who, without approval of SSPs, appointed their henchmen as SHOs and then resorted to victimisation of their political opponents. This caused serious command and control problems as the SHOs started reporting to the political masters.
DGP Saini, during a security review meeting on Wednesday evening, reportedly took up the matter with deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the home minister.
Saini told him that several cops heading the 359 police stations of the state and 122 police posts were appointed in violation of rules and mostly due to political patronage, and thus needed to be shunted out from their current postings to ensure better policing, sources said.
After a go-ahead from Sukhbir, the DGP on Thursday directed all the commissioners of police, SSPs and inspectors general of police (IGPs) to immediately transfer the SHOs and police posts in-charges posted in violation of the rules.
"In case any officials already posted as SHOs/incharge(s) [of] police post are not as per the above guidelines, then the same may be replaced immediately… today itself... Repeat, today itself (sic)," said the DGP's order. Friday, 11am was the deadline for compliance.
"The DGP has issued the transfer and posting guidelines in a bid to discipline the force and strengthen the command and control structure of the district police," Kuldeep Singh, IGP (headquarters), said.
Saini has further directed that the attachment of personnel from one cadre to another will be strongly discouraged, and that no official on attachment from the armed battalions or any other cadre to the district police will be posted as SHO or in-charge of a police post.
Only non-gazetted officers with substantive rank of sub-inspector or above will be posted as SHO.
This means that a local-rank, own-rank promotee or ad hoc sub-inspector will not be eligible for the post of SHO. As for police posts, officials with substantive rank of assistant sub-inspector (ASI) will be eligible for posting as in-charge. This implies that no local-rank, own-rank promotee or ad hoc ASI will be eligible for the post.