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Appointment of new DGP: Khattar govt treading on tricky terrain

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan says seeking extension for incumbent DGP will be an attempt to circumvent SC orders

india Updated: Sep 01, 2018 10:04 IST
Hitender Rao
Hitender Rao
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
DGP,Khattar govt,Manohar Lal Khattar
A view of Supreme Court building in New Delhi.(HT Photo)

The Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana, which is trying to follow in the footsteps of its BJP counterpart in Maharashtra by contemplating an extension in the service of incumbent director general of police (DGP) BS Sandhu, is treading on a tricky terrain. The move, legal experts say, is fraught with risks as it runs contrary to the directions of the Supreme Court.

The apex court had on July 3 directed thestate governments to send their proposals, with regard to the appointment of the next DGP, to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) at least three months prior to the date of retirement of the incumbent DGP. The SC directions were reiteration of the 2006 Prakash Singh judgment on police reforms.

However, the BJP government in Haryana is contemplating to move case for extension in service of DGP BS Sandhu, who is set to retire on September 30. The government is also planning to cite Maharashtra’s example, where the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) of the Central government, on August 28, granted three-month extension to Maharashtra DGP DD Padsalgikar after relaxing Section 16 (1) of the All India Service (death-cum-retirement benefit) Rules. The extension order said that Padsalgikar who retired on August 31 was given an extension in public interest.

However, the ACC decision on granting extension to Maharashtra DGP is contrary to the Supreme Court’s directions, legal experts said.

The apex court had said that any legislation or rule framed by any of the states or central government running counter to its directions shall remain in abeyance to the aforesaid extent.

Prashant Bhushan, counsel for Prakash Singh, the petitioner in the Supreme Court, said that what the Central government and Maharashtra did by granting extension to the DGP is contrary to the Supreme Court orders. “This is clearly an attempt to circumvent the apex court’s orders. The directions issued by the Supreme court with regards to selection and appointment of the DGP were intended to insulate the police and the DGP from the control of the political executive,’’ Bhushan said.

Even state government officials echoed Bhushan’s views. “First, there is no provision in the rules to grant extension in service to a state DGP. The Central government granted extension to Maharashtra DGP in relaxation of the All India Service rules. If Haryana government wants to follow in Maharashtra’s footsteps then they should realise that relaxations cannot be made a routine affair. Also, the rules which are being put into play to grant extension in service are in abeyance since they run counter to the SC directions,’’ said an official.

The SC had also said that if a state government has a grievance with regard to its July 3 order, it may approach the court for its modification. However, the Haryana government has not filed any application for modification of the orders before the apex court. The state government has also not sent a proposal to the UPSC for the appointment of the next DGP.

The apex court in the Prakash Singh judgment had said the DGP shall be selected by the state government from among the three senior-most officers who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the UPSC on the basis of their length of service, track record and range of experience for heading the police force. And, once he has been selected for the job, he should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation.

First Published: Sep 01, 2018 09:32 IST