The Punjab and Haryana high court was informed on Wednesday that the Punjab government had adopted "dual standards" in the promotion cases of two Indian Police Service (IPS) officers - state director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Davinder Singh Garcha.
Arguing the case, senior supreme court advocate KN Balgopal, who was appointed amicus curiae (friend of the court) to assist the court, said Saini was promoted as additional director general of police (ADGP) in 2009 despite the framing of charges against him in a criminal case, while Garcha was denied promotion in 2010 as deputy inspector general (DIG) though only a chargesheet was filed against him in the Moga sex scandal.
The case in which the high court had taken suo motu notice on Saini's appointment as Punjab DGP came up for hearing before the division bench comprising chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain.
"There is a precedent in the case which is contrary," pointed out Balgopal. He added that Garcha was to be promoted as DIG, but at the meeting held on August 16, 2010, it was observed, "There is a CBI inquiry pending against him. Hence he was not promoted," added Balgopal. "On the contrary, Saini was promoted from ADGP to DGP (on March 14, 2013) even after the framing of charges."
The court was informed that when Garcha moved the Central Administrative Tribunal and even cited Saini's case, his plea seeking promotion was dismissed and now as Garcha's appeal is pending in the high court, the state government had taken a different stand.
The amicus curiae further argued that Saini could not have been promoted up to the rank of DGP, had the state government followed Section 6 (2) of the Punjab Police Act, 2007. He said the Act clearly stated that the state government can even transfer a DGP "where charges have been framed against him by a court in a case involving corruption or moral turpitude" even before the completion of a minimum tenure of two years. He also made various citations of the Supreme Court as well as other high courts on "moral turpitude".
Balgopal also made a reference to the Punjab government's circular issued on February 27, 1998, for following the "sealed cover procedure", which is adopted in case of promotion of officers "when charges had been framed against them" and they cannot be promoted unless given the clean chit by the court.
Continuing with the arguments, the senior advocate further submitted, "The recommending authority had an obligation not to recommend his (Saini's) case as per the PJ Thomas (Supreme Court) judgment."
Before concluding his arguments, Balgopal submitted, "At the time when he (Saini) was appointed DGP, there were senior officers than him."
However, when the court asked the Punjab government counsel as to when the state would start its arguments, the court was informed that the advocate general had to argue the case and he had some "personal difficulty" so if the court could adjourn the case somewhere in late January. On this, the court adjourned the case for January 24, 2013.
Saini's appointment as DGP is under the HC scanner on the ground that he was charged with kidnapping and killing people in Ludhiana in 1994 and the case was pending in Delhi, in which a special CBI court had in 2006 chargesheeted him and others.