As the debate over a separate examination for recruitment to the Indian Police Service (IPS) gathers momentum, the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are feeling the pinch of shortage of police officers.
The shortage, which varies from 22% to 36%, is affecting policing in the three states. Of the trio, Punjab has the most acute deficit. It has only 109 IPS officers against the sanctioned cadre strength of 172, with 120 direct recruitment posts and 52 promotion posts. There is a shortage of both directly-recruited and promotee IPS officers in the state cadre, with 87 and 22 officers in position, respectively, as per data of the union home ministry as on January 1, 2012.
There are only 108 IPS officers in position against the authorised strength of 137 in Haryana. The state has 78 directly-recruited IPS officers as against the sanctioned direct recruitment quota of 96. There are another 30 officers promoted to the IPS from the state police service. Himachal Pradesh, which is among the smaller states, is grappling with a shortage of 20 IPS officers, with the sanctioned strength being 89.
While the gap is due to shortage of directly-recruited IPS officers, the HP government has been promoting officers from the state police service. Punjab, on the other hand, has not been able to promote officers from the state civil service to the IPS due to legal tangles.
"There have been no promotions to the IPS in the past several years due to continuous litigation. But we have recently sent a proposal to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for filling 18 posts of the IPS by way of promotion from the Punjab Police Service," principal secretary, home, Punjab, DS Bains told Hindustan Times. Ten more posts would be filled in the next round this year and another seven in 2013.
The three states have adequate number of IPS officers at the higher, narrower levels of the organisational pyramid, such as ranks of inspector general, additional director general and director general, but there is a deficit at the cutting-edge level of superintendent of police and deputy inspector general. The shortage has created a situation where cadre posts, particularly of district SPs, are being filled by officers of the state police service in 'gross violation' of the cadre rules.
Though Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have been posting state civil service officers as SPs in the districts for some time, successive state governments in Haryana had refrained from this until recently.
The state has now started posting non-IPS officers as SPs and designated senior DSPs as additional SPs, appointing them as commandants in the state armed police.
"The allocation of directly recruited IPS officers has not been adequate. The Centre was requested to increase our allocation. On the promotion quota, we have done well as eight officers were promoted recently. There are three more posts in 2012 and another seven will be available in 2013," according to Samir Mathur, principal secretary, home, Haryana.
Besides, Haryana has managed to get five IPS officers, all of them well-connected, on inter-cadre deputation from other states.
Himachal principal secretary, home, PC Dhiman said the state government had also requested the ministry of home affairs (MHA) for allocation of at least three officers every year till 2015 to take care of the vacancies in the IPS.
"The home ministry has been mulling over the shortage of IPS officers for quite some time, but not much to improve the situation. It is pushing for special recruitment of IPS officers. However, there is no long-term staff plan," an IG-rank officer said, requesting anonymity.
Two years ago, a committee constituted by the MHA under Kamal Kumar, a retired IPS officer, to study the shortage of IPS officers, had recommended maximal augmentation of IPS seats in the civil services examination, limited competitive examination for directly-recruited DSPs of states and their equivalent in central police organisations (CPOs) and appointment of professionals in specialised fields such as information technology, finance and human resource management on contract basis.