Defending the appointment of Punjab director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini in the Punjab and Haryana high court, state advocate general Ashok Aggarwal argued on Thursday that the DGP could be removed only after conviction since charges could be framed against the officer even on the basis of suspicion.
Saini's appointment as DGP on March 14, 2012, is under the HC scanner on the ground that he was charged with kidnapping and killing three persons in Ludhiana in 1994 and the case is pending in Delhi, where a special CBI court had in 2006 chargesheeted him and others.
Aggarwal informed the division bench comprising chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain that Saini had only been chargesheeted and there was no conviction till date. He argued that there were numerous examples of police officers of various states involved in cases where they had been at least tried in sessions courts. "This is the professional hazard of this service (police) which other services may not have," reasoned the advocate general.
He also asserted that the Punjab police had to work under tremendous pressure in "turbulent times".
The court was informed that the Punjab government had made a legislation, the Punjab Police Act, 2007, which took care of the establishment, appointments and other functions of the police force, whereas most of the other states had not yet made legislations in this regard.
The advocate general also cited the Supreme Court judgment, 'Prakash Singh and others vs Union of India and others', dated September 22, 2006. He read out to the court the judgment which says that the DGP should have a "minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation."
He specifically pointed out that the judgment, which is binding on all states and union territories, said that the DGP may be relieved of his responsibilities by the state government in consultation with the state security commission after any action had been taken against him under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules. He further quoted from the judgment that the DGP could also be removed, "following his conviction in a court of law in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption, or if he is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his duties."
However, speaking for the bench, chief justice Sikri pointed out to Aggarwal, "The Prakash Singh case would apply at the time of removal and not at the time of appointment, which is in question." He further asked the advocate general to argue on the rationale behind Saini's appointment as DGP.
After arguments lasting around half-an-hour on Thursday afternoon, the court adjourned the case for further arguments on February 4.