The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on a plea contesting the practice of preparing a panel of IPS officers with two years or more of service left for appointment of Directors General of Police in states, overlooking a number of other senior officers with excellent service records.
The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Sanjiv Khanna reserved its order as counsel Prashant Bhushan said that the Union Public Service Commission's (UPSC) refusal to empanel people with less than two years of service was causing havoc and a number of senior officers were resigning.
He said that UPSC was doing so citing the apex court's July 3, 2018 order which had said, "Our direction No. (c) should be considered by the Union Public Service Commission to mean that the persons are to be empanelled, as far as practicable, from amongst the people within the zone of consideration who have got clear two years of service.
Merit and seniority should be given due weightage. "
The state shall immediately appoint one of the persons from the panel, it had said.
Observing that as far as the UPSC was concerned, the date of the IPS officer's retirement was not relevant to it, CJI Gogoi asked: "You want that the original order in the Prakash Singh case (also known as police reform case) should be restored. "
Telling the court that the police officers "who are the best, who have service and are competent" should be considered for appointment as DGPs, Bhushan said that the consequences of the July 3, 2018 order are manifesting themselves now.
Giving the background of the July 3, 2018 order passed on the Centre's application, Attorney General K. K. Venugopal said that states were appointing favoured officers as acting DGPs and then as these officers neared the retirement age, they were appointed on regular basis giving them an extended service of two years.
He left it to the court to spell out the "reasonable" remaining term before an IPS officer's superannuation to be considered for empanelment for appointment as the DGP.
Senior counsel Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Bihar, said that the fixed term of two years for the DGP cuts both ways as in the process, a number of officers junior to the officer appointed DGP retire from service without ever heading the force in the state.
The July 3, 2018 order had also said that the endeavour has to be there that a person who was selected and appointed as the DGP continues despite his date of superannuation, but the this extended term "should be a reasonable period".
The court had said this as it noted that some states were appointing the DGP on the date of the officer's retirement, which resulted in the person appointed continuing to head the state police force two years beyond the date of his superannuation.