The Central Administrative Tribunal has struck down the home ministry’s controversial move to recruit IPS officers from among army, paramilitary and police officers, holding that the central plan was “absolutely discriminatory” and unfair.
“The rule cannot be sacrificed at the altar of administrative convenience or celerity,” the Guwahati bench of the tribunal, comprising Madan Kumar Chaturvedi and Manjula Das, observed in its decision, holding that the Centre had not fulfilled the condition of consultation with the joint cadre authority of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre. The authority is a panel of a handful of top officers of the two states.
Nearly 1,300 officers — in the rank of assistant commandants in central paramilitary, police and army — had taken the examination in May this year. Of them, 255 cleared the first stage and have appeared in the interviews for the 80 posts.
The CAT decision on September 14 could prompt the Union Public Service Commission to put the exercise on hold.
“Let us just say it was not a very bright move... This is a good time for the government to be gracious and step back,” said Jugal Kishore, president of the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Police Services.
The Guwahati decision came on a petition by five Assam Police Service officers who argued the orders to hold the examination were illegal since the joint cadre authority had not been consulted.
The Centre also failed to convince the tribunal about the need to create a new channel of induction. The Prime Minister’s Office, incidentally, had similar doubts and had permitted the home ministry to recruit officers through this channel for only two years, and not for seven years as originally proposed.
The tribunal said the upper age limit prescribed by the home ministry was “discriminatory” since younger officers will get an extra advantage.
“The chances to be considered for promotion of the applicants would be bleak as per the amended rules,” the bench held, striking down the three notifications as “absolutely discriminatory, unreasonable, unfair, discriminatory and violative” of the Constitution.
The limited competitive examination owes its origin to a report by a retired IPS officer, Kamal Kumar, in 2009 who came up with this route. But the home ministry only accepted some of his recommendations, creating complications.
For instance, the home ministry allowed defence officers to take the test, a move that forced the government to extend the training period from five months suggested by Kumar to two years.