The spat between the highly respected Director General of Police of Maharashtra Sanjeev Dayal and three senior IPS officers of the rank of Addl. DGPs has hit the front page of vernacular as well as the English newspapers. This is unfortunate because such disagreements in any organisation are common and expected. That the officers were so bothered as to leak the news to the press requires analysis and objective explanations. After all, the security of life and property is a service we demand from our police force and if senior officers are at loggerheads it does not augur well for the service delivery system.
It goes without saying that a professional police force demands leaders who are both competent and, more importantly, men or women of total integrity. When greed overtakes better judgement, the officers, bitten by the money bug, cannot impart justice at the very initial stages of the justice delivery system – that is investigating complaints, charging the guilty and ensuring that innocent people are not victimised.
Sanjeev Dayal is one of the most outstanding IPS officers in the country today. He is low-key, extremely just, very competent and spotlessly clean in his dealings. It is a pity we do not have more officers of his calibre.
Of the three officers arraigned against him mentioned in the newspapers, two do not enjoy reputations that any IPS officer should aspire for. I have not heard anything adverse about the integrity quotient of the third but was aware of his unfortunate marital problem which reflected on his work and ultimately on the department and its capacity to serve. I have only now learnt from the newspapers that Sanjeev Dayal had questioned him about some purchases for the state police that he was entrusted to effect.
It is important for the people to understand that a uniformed force has to maintain discipline at all levels, failing which its effectiveness reduces. The authority of the chief should never be questioned and because of this it is important to ensure that the chief is carefully chosen for his ability to lead, to judge impartially and dispense justice to his subordinate from whom he has to get work done. It is unfortunate that in Maharashtra which followed these principles right up to the eighties the political class in its quest for personal power and other extraneous benefits has totally sidelined the imperative to maintain the dignity and authority of the leader.
When the force knows that the top man is in charge and that the top man wants justice to be done in all dealings and will not brook any departure from this Constitutional commitment the rank and file immediately responds, corruption reduces by fifty percent or more and the public interest is served. In their anxiety to distribute patronage and some times to amass wealth (as in the case of one particular Home Minister) successive Home Ministers have emasculated the institution of Director General of Police and almost made it redundant. Sanjeev Dayal is doing whatever he can according to his conscience not only to make himself relevant but to ensure that the police render some semblance of service to the people as is their duty under the Constitution.
He has the unenviable task of dealing with politicised subordinates some of them at very senior levels who have managed to worm themselves into the good books of politicians to serve their own selfish interests. I had complained of the corrupt tendencies of one of these three officers to a previous Home Minister. Though the letter was a confidential one it came to his notice through his contacts in the Home Department. He decided to meet me and promised to give up his unworthy ways. I asked him “If you had to choose between going up the ladder of promotion or amassing wealth which would you opt for?” He said he would choose career and as he was a capable officer I told him that the public would benefit from his decision. Did he keep this promise? Sanjeev Dayal would know. And even more than him, the subordinate ranks would know because there is no secret you can keep from the prying eyes of those who operate under your command.
Newspaper reports say the three aggrieved officers resented the fact that the DGP had downgraded their Annual Confidential Reports. As I said, a decision has to be made by each individual official whether he wants to serve the people or serve himself. If these three had chosen to serve themselves it was incumbent on a good leader like Dayal to mention the fact in their ACRs so that they did not get more chances to prosper at the cost of public good.
The new Chief Minister, I am sure, will understand the logic of these arguments. I am told he is intelligent, perceptive and just.
(JULIO RIBEIRO is a former Mumbai police commissioner)