Kiran Bedi, a very respected and much-decorated police officer and the first woman to join the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1972, is expected be the city's next police commissioner, according to knowledgeable sources.
There is a strong speculation that the reins of the city police will be handed over to Bedi soon as the current Delhi Police chief, K K Paul, who retires next year, is most likely to be moved as the chairman of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The tenure of current UPSC chairman Gurbachan Jagat ends on June 30, 2007.
According to senior officials of the ministry, a file relating to Paul's promotion has been moved in the ministry, as he has been the chief of Delhi Police for more than three years and four months, the longest tenure ever.
Former commissioner Ajay Raj Sharma was the only other person to occupy the seat for so long.
"Earlier, it was believed that Paul might be moved as the Director General (DG) of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) or as chairman to the UPSC, but now it is certain that he would move to the latter position as the government has appointed Ranjit Kumar Das as DG, CISF last week," home ministry sources told the media.
While Paul, who joined the IPS in 1970, will complete his tenure on Feb 29, 2008, Bedi has still two years to go before retirement.
She served in the rank of Joint Commissioner in Delhi Police before being promoted to Director General, Home Guards. Recently, she was appointed as Director General of Bureau of Police Research and Development. <b1>
"Bedi, who is second in seniority to Paul followed by Special Commissioner of Police Y.S Dadwal, has the strongest chance to become the new police commissioner," a senior official told the media. Dadwal joined the police service in 1974.
"She is known to be close to new Lieutenant-Governor (LG) Tejendra Khanna. In his previous innings as LG, Kiran Bedi was his Officer on Special Duty, handling all grievances routed to him with characteristic élan. With Khanna in the same office again, speculation has only strengthened that Bedi may find her way into the top job in the police headquarters," he added.
Bedi is one of the most celebrated police officers, having been awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered as Asia's Nobel Prize.
"I have been trained for this job but it would be too early to say anything on this," Bedi told the media.
"I will respect the government's order, if a chance of serving the people is given to me. It's a great service to the city," she added.
On the contrary, some senior officials of Delhi Police consider her chances to be slim, considering her outspoken nature and think she may be too high profile a person for such a sensitive job.
"She would have been made the police chief four months back if the government actually wished to give her the deserving post," one senior officer said.
Another official said: "She was deliberately shifted to the Bureau of Police Research and Development to placate the male ego of officials at the highest level of Delhi Police."