The three-year long tenure of incumbent SSP Nilambri Vijay Jagdale is set to end in August. Last week, Punjab government sent a panel of three names of IPS officers, Kuldeep Singh Chahal, 2009 batch, Patil Ketan Baliram, 2010 batch, and Vivek Sheel Soni of 2011 batch to the UT Administration for the post of SSP. As the Congress-led Punjab government sent the panel, issues including the selection process for the post, the role of SSP and what makes it mandatory that SSP (Chandigarh) should be appointed from the Punjab cadre, despite the UT being the joint capital of two states – Punjab and Haryana, came to the fore.
The Chandigarh police was reorganised on November 1, 1966, when Haryana was carved from Punjab and Chandigarh was given the status of the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana. At that time, there was only one post of IPS, SSP (Chandigarh) which lay with AGMUT cadre IPS officers from Delhi. VK Kalia, an AGMUT cadre IPS, was the first SSP of Chandigarh from Delhi. Three other subsequent SSPs, including IJ Verma, ML Bhanot and Gautam Kaul were also of AGMUT cadre from Delhi. From 1966 to 1979, the post of SSP in Chandigarh had remained the top most in the UT police department. The post of Inspector General of Police (IGP), Chandigarh, was created in 1979. IPS BN Mehra from Delhi was the first IGP, Chandigarh police, from 1979 to 1983.
How SSP (Chandigarh) came to Punjab cadre
In true sense, the post of SSP (Chandigarh) had remained with AGMUT cadre IPS officers from Delhi till 1990. It was given to Punjab when terrorism was at its peak in the state and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, that governs Chandigarh related matters, felt the need of better coordination between Punjab and the central government in view of the law and order situation. The then Home Minister of India, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, agreed to give the post to Punjab cadre. A retired police officer said, “Though the fifth SSP Chandigarh, GS Aujla, was from Punjab cadre but for a brief tenure of 1981-82. IPS Sumedh Singh Saini was the first full-fledged SSP Chandigarh of Punjab cadre from 1991 to 1994. Since then, the post of SSP lies with Punjab cadre IPS officers. Subsequently, the post of IG rank was also created and this post was reserved for AGMUT cadre officers of Delhi. SP (Security/Traffic) was given to Haryana cadre IPS officer. The rule of 60:40 between Punjab and Haryana does not apply to the cadre posts of IAS/IPS officers posted in Chandigarh. The rule is only meant for PCS, HCS and other junior rank officers.”
SSP (Chandigarh) is a cadre post with a three-year tenure. Any IPS officer deployed here from Punjab can serve for three years, including in two years of deputation and one of extension. It is the discretion of Punjab state government to send a panel of three eligible IPS officers for the post of SSP to UT Administrator. The UT Administrator discusses the panel with other officers including Adviser, Home Secretary and Finance Secretary. After considering their Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs), seniority, job profile and background, UT Administrator sends the file to the MHA with one recommendation. It is in purview of the MHA to either to accept or reject the name.
Importance and the politics behind it
The post of SSP (Chandigarh) is considered to be influential and important. Responsible for maintaining law and order, SSP, Chandigarh, is the most powerful person after the IGP in police department. The ruling party in Punjab always gives priority to its most favoured IPS officer for the post. However, the equation invites tussle if rival parties are in power in the Center and the state. Earlier, panels of IPS officers sent by the state government to UT Administration were rejected by the MHA twice, only to place an officer of their choice in the office.
From 1990s to 2020, the charisma and aura around the post of SSP has changed a lot. In 1990s, there used to be only one SSP with authority on all the police stations and independent investigation cells including crime branch etc. With the passage of time, circumstances changed and the role of SSP got confined to maintaining law and order, IRB and Foreigner National Registration office. Many important wings like Crime branch and Police lines was brought under other IPS officers of AGMUT cadre, Delhi.
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