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Amendments in Punjab Police Act add to confusion in appointment of new DGP

Supreme Court lawyer says amendments are against the order.

punjab Updated: Sep 01, 2018 11:44 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab Police Act,DGP,Union Public Service Commission
Haryana DGP BS Sandhu is set to retire on September 30. (HT Photo)

The state government’s recent move to amend the Punjab Police Act has added to the confusion over the issue of appointment of next director general of police (DGP) with only one month left in the retirement of incumbent Suresh Arora.

Arora, a 1984-batch IPS officer, would retire on September 30.

Before carrying out the amendments, the state government had claimed that the move is aimed at bringing the present police Act in line with the recent Supreme Court judgment.

The July 3 order of the apex court directed states that when they anticipate vacancy in the post of DGP, they shall send their proposals to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) at least 3 months in advance and the UPSC shall then prepare the panel of three officials, out of which the state shall choose one for the DGP’s post.

However, in the amendment made in the assembly on Tuesday, the government has made provisions that the state government shall select the DGP from a panel of at least three eligible officers suggested by a committee, headed by the chief secretary.

“The DGP shall be selected based on their service record and range of experience, having a reasonable period of remainder service left which shall in no case be less than twelve months as on the date of appointment,” the amendments reads.

The amendments also made a provision of the setting up of a ‘State Security Commission’ headed by the chief minister.

Interestingly, contrary to the impression created till now that the commission will appoint the DGP, the amendments mandate no role of the proposed panel in the appointment of the DGP. The commission will have a role in removal of the DGP before completing two years. The new amendments are silent in the light of the fresh SC judgment.

On August 10, the Punjab government had announced that it has decided to seek review of the SC judgment claiming that it would lead to political interference by the Centre in state matters.

The directions amounted to infringement by the Centre on the state’s powers, since law and order was a state subject as per the provisions of the Indian Constitution, the official spokesperson had claimed.

In its order, the SC had granted liberty to states to approach it for modification of its direction if they are aggrieved by it.

But till today, the Punjab Government has not yet filed any review petition in the apex court.

The Punjab government has neither sent a panel of names to the UPSC three months before the retirement of the present DGP nor has its challenged the SC directive.

Meanwhile, a DGP rank officer familiar with developments on the issue, claimed that Punjab could not have moved the SC for review before making the fresh amendments.

“Punjab has not amended its Act as per earlier judgment by the SC in 2008, which included formation of a security commission. As the state has brought its own act in tandem with the earlier judgments of the SC, now it can file a review challenging the UPSC’s role as a threat to the federal structure as its ground,” the official said.

When contacted, SC lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who is a counsel for petitioner in the Parkash Singh case, claimed that the amendments by Punjab are against the SC order.

“The apex court has further directed that any legislation/rule framed by any of the states or the central government running counter to the direction shall remain in abeyance to the aforesaid extent,” he said.

Meanwhile, 1985-batch IPS officers Mohd Mustafa and Hardeep Singh Dhillon, and 1986-batch officer Dinkar Arora, who is DGP (intelligence) are considered the main contenders for the post.

First Published: Sep 01, 2018 11:41 IST