The Supreme Court today (Wednesday, Jan 16) dismissed the pleas of five States to let them appoint police chiefs through an internal state committee rather than from the panel of three recommended by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
The Supreme Court order issued last year on selection and appointment of Director Generals of Police (DGPs) directed States to “ensure that the Director-General of Police (DGP) is appointed through a merit-based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years”.
The apex court was hearing applications of various State governments — Punjab, Kerala, West Bengal, Haryana and Bihar — seeking implementation of their local laws regarding selection and appointment of DGPs.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi said that the earlier directions of the court on selection and appointment of DGPs were issued in larger public interest and to protect the police officials from political interference.
On December 12 last year, the apex court extended till January 31 the tenures of the present DGPs of Punjab and Haryana and agreed to hear the states’ pleas seeking to implement their local laws regarding the selection and appointment of the police chief.
DGPs Suresh Arora (Punjab) and BS Sandhu (Haryana) were due to retire on December 31 last year and will now remain in office till January 31 according to the earlier order of the apex court.
Several states were seeking modification of the apex court’s earlier order directing all the states to mandatorily take the assistance of the UPSC in short-listing the names for appointing DGPs.
The top court, on July 3 last year, passed a slew of directions on police reforms in the country and chronicled the steps for appointment of regular DGPs.
It said the states will have to send a list of senior police officers to the UPSC at least three months prior to the retirement of the incumbent.
The UPSC will then prepare a panel and intimate the states, which in turn will immediately appoint one of the persons from that list.
Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Kerala and West Bengal told the court that they have already framed a comprehensive law, dealing with the procedures to appoint the DGP, in pursuance of the 2006 apex court verdict on police reforms.
The apex court, while deciding the PIL filed by former DGPs Prakash Singh and NK Singh in 2006, issued several directions, including the setting up of a state security commission to ensure the government does not exercise unwarranted influence on the police.
It said the appointment of DGPs and police officers should be merit-based and transparent and officers like DGPs and superintendents of police (SPs) should have a minimum fixed tenure of two years.
However, when states enacted laws providing a mechanism for DGP selection, the apex court on July 3 last year kept the state laws in abeyance.
It earlier passed directions on police reforms and restrained all states and Union Territories from appointing any police officer as acting DGP.
The directions had come on an application filed by the Centre in which it claimed that certain states have been appointing acting DGPs and then making them permanent just before the date of their superannuation to enable them to get the benefit of an additional two-year tenure till the age of 62 years.
The court had also cautioned the states against conceiving of the “idea of appointing any person on the post of DGP on acting basis for there is no concept of acting Director General of Police”.
The apex court, on September 8, 2017, agreed to hear a clutch of pleas observing that its historic 2006 verdict on police reforms, recommending steps like fixed tenures for DGPs and SPs, has not yet been implemented by states and Union territories.
In the 2006 judgment, the Supreme Court said the DGP of the state “shall be selected by the State government from amongst the three senior most officers of the department who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the UPSC on the basis of their length of service, very good record and range of experience for heading the police force”. The court also said that once the DGP was selected, he should have a minimum tenure of two years.”
The court also said that the states should send their proposals with regard to the appointment of the next DGP to the UPSC at least three months before the date of retirement of the incumbent.
In its order, the Supreme Court had also laid down the guidelines for the removal of the DGPs saying that a state government may remove a DGP after consultation with the “State Security Commission consequent upon any action taken against him under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules” or if the DGP has been convicted in a court of law in a criminal offence or for corruption.