Home minister P Chidambaram may have convinced chief ministers who opposed the special IPS recruitment exam to be held next month but Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had his doubts when he approved the exam last year.
Singh had given his approval to hold the special exam to be held annually "on a pilot basis" for two years, not seven years as sought by the home ministry.
"Thereafter, (after two years) the quality of intake and efficacy of recruitment method may be reviewed by a committee… Decision on further recruitment through this method may be taken on the basis of the findings of this committee," PMO deputy secretary Sharmila Mary Joseph K told the home ministry in a June 2011 communication, conveying the PM's conditional approval.
Significantly, the panel that would carry out the review includes heads of the two premier academies that train civil servants — National Police Academy at Hyderabad and the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration at Mussoorie.
The PMO document was accessed under the right to information law by Zakat Foundation, a minority charity organisation, headquartered in Delhi, which had approached the Delhi High Court against the home ministry's limited competitive examination.
Syed Zafar Mahmood of the foundation was the first to move court against the limited competitive examination. Since then, civil aspirants have moved court in Delhi and Odisha, the Delhi Andaman Nicobar Police Services have approached the administrative tribunal while the UP police service association has knocked at the doors of the Allahabad High Court.
At the chief ministers' conference last week, several CMs questioned the need to hold the limited competitive examination, arguing that state police officers stagnating in their posts be promoted faster to make good the shortages.
Interestingly, according to home ministry, only five states "have not agreed with the scheme". Chidambaram had tried to convince the CMs, pointing out that he had gone by the recommendations of the Kamal Kumar committee.
He added that if the states were to double the number of police personnel to raise the police-population ratio to 1:500, "you cannot have a police force without the leaders".
The Kamal Kumar panel recommended allowing Deputy Superintendent of Police-rank officers in central and state police forces, less than 45 years old, to take the examination. The government, however, reduced the age limit to 35 and extended the eligibility to defence officers in the rank of Captain and Major.