The Centre is considering names of five police officers from outside Delhi, including two Gujarat cadre officers to step into Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi’s shoes who retires next month-end.
Sources attributed the government’s inclination to assess officers from outside Delhi to the limited number of police officers within the cadre of sufficient seniority. Another official added that a decision, either ways, had not been taken so far. “A decision would be taken closer to Bassi’s retirement,” an official added.
One of the five officers being considered is Ahmedabad city police commissioner Shivanand Jha. Asked for his comments, Jha responded: “I have nothing to say.”
Sources told HT that the Gujarat home department had also suggested the name of Surat police commissioner Rakesh Asthana when the Centre had asked for possible candidates for the next police chief’s post.
Jha, 55, was member of Supreme Court constituted special investigation team for the post-Godhra riots cases. The 1983-batch IPS officer was later removed from the team.
Back in Delhi, 1979-batch Alok Kumar Verma, who is posted as director general (prisons) with the Delhi government, is the senior-most police officer in the AGMUT cadre (short for Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories).
If the government decides against Verma, the next eligible officers are the two special commissioners of the 1984 batch: Dharmendra Kumar (Special Unit) and Deepak Kumar Misra (Law & order).
The last police commissioner to be parachuted from outside Delhi was Ajai Raj Sharma in 1999 by the then deputy prime minister LK Advani.
A no-nonsense cop from Uttar Pradesh, Sharma had been inducted against the backdrop of intense factionalism within the police leadership and perceptions about its inability to rein in criminals. He held the post for three years before moving to the Border Security Force as its chief.
Over the next decade, the Congress-led UPA government too had played around with the idea of bringing in the police chief from outside Delhi on occasions but eventually settled for an insider instead.
There is a view within the home ministry that it should go by seniority unless there were exceptional reasons. But police chiefs are seldom appointed on seniority alone.
A police officer said this was true for Delhi as well where the police – which comes under the control of the BJP-led central government – would be constantly at war with the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi.