THE UNION Public Service Commission (UPSC) Wednesday challenged before the High Court a decision by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) to quash appointment of Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta. The UPSC contended that the draft guidelines applied by the Empanelment Committee in preparation of panel of officers for DGP selection do not contravene the criteria laid down by the Supreme Court.
The case filed by UPSC was ordered to be listed with already pending case of Punjab government and Gupta. The cases are listed for hearing on February 26. Advocate Alka Chatrath appearing before a division bench Wednesday submitted that the CAT decision will have an impact on the procedure being adopted by the Commission in selection of DGPs across India. Chatrath also submitted that assessment sheets of the officers in zone of consideration were available with the UPSC when the names were finalised, adding they claim privilege over the sheets, but they can be produced before the court for its perusal.
The High Court on January 21 had stayed the CAT decision on state government’s appeal against it. A DGP is selected from among three senior most officers finalised by an empanelment committee of the UPSC. The officers are selected by the Committee from the names sent by the state government in anticipation of the vacancy of the DGP’s post.
The UPSC in its petition said the draft guidelines have been followed and applied uniformly in 28 Empanelment Committee meetings held since November 2010 across India, and the Supreme Court has expressed satisfaction with the practice being adopted by it. It has also said that zone of consideration includes officers belonging to the IPS of concerned cadre, not below the rank of ADG, and who have completed at least 30 years of service, adding the observations of CAT regarding the number of officers to be sent by the state are based purely on surmises and conjectures.
The UPSC has also argued that procedure laid down by it is required to be observed by the Empanelment Committee, while examining and scrutinising the range of experience deemed necessary for heading the police, in the context of the circumstances peculiar to each state . Citing an example, it said the range of experience required to head a police force in Jammu & Kashmir may not be comparable with that of a North-East state or rest of Indian states. UPSC has also said it did not give primacy to ‘Intelligence’ field while preparing the panel, adding the Tribunal’s observation that posting of an officer is not in his hands is based on conjecture and demonstrates lack of objectivity in the judgment.
Punjab files reply to HC queries
The Punjab government, meanwhile, filed a reply before the High Court Registry Wednesday in response to the court order passed last month asking Punjab Chief Secretary to explain the criteria followed for fixing the number of officers sent for consideration to the UPSC and also the material sent to the Commission for assessment of the officers regarding their ‘range of experience’ criteria.
Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, in the reply, said that the criteria followed in fixing the number of eligible panel officers for consideration has been done as per the requirements of the UPSC as laid down in its draft guidelines. A list of 12 officers falling within the Zone of Consideration was sent to the UPSC accordingly, the reply states. In compliance with Supreme Court directions, the list was later reduced to eight.
“With reference to any instructions of the Department of Personnel and Training Guidelines regarding the Zone of Consideration, it is stated that these are not applicable in the present empanelment, since the procedure established by the UPSC …. are being followed,” reads the reply.
Punjab government has also said that complete and up-to-date ACR dossiers of the eight officers were sent to the UPSC. Regarding the material sent, the government has said the gradation and distribution list of members of IPS cadre of Punjab, and the bio-data of 12 officers — including the posts held, nature of duties performed, academic and professional achievements — was sent. The material also included the gist of ACRs of eight officers, complete PAR/ACR dossiers of the officers and also the integrity certificates of the officers.
“It is apparent that the material provided by the state government to the UPSC contains comprehensive and relevant details of all officers in the Zone of Consideration relating to their ACRs/PARs, places of postings, nature of duties, nature of duties performed, academic and professional achievements, trainings attended, empanelments, appreciation letters, other distinctions etc., on the basis of which the UPSC would be able to derive the officers ‘Range of Experience’,” reads the reply.
The order asking Punjab to explain the criteria followed for fixing the number of eligible officers – whose names were sent for consideration to the UPSC Committee, and the material sent to the UPSC for assessment of the officers was passed by the court last month after counsels representing DGP-rank officers Mohd. Mustafa and Sidharth Chattopadhyaya argued that there was no material on record before the Committee for assessing the officers on the range of experience.
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