In an indication of tensions in Maharashtra’s three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, merely three days after 10 deputy commissioners of police (DCP) in the Mumbai Police were reshuffled, the government revoked their transfer order on Sunday.
The rescinding of the order was announced by Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. Thursday’s transfer order had invoked Section 22 (n) (2) of the Maharashtra Police Act, which vests in the chief minister discretionary special powers to transfer IPS officers in the state, indicating that they were carried out under the authority of Uddhav Thackeray.
Deshmukh claimed there were no differences among the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress and that the order was revoked by him in coordination with Uddhav. “The order of internally transferring DCP’s by the Mumbai Police commissioner has been cancelled by me and the CM. There is good communication between Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena and talks of any rifts are baseless,” he told mediapersons.
The transfer order issued on Thursday had stated, “As per Maharashtra Police Act, 1951 section 22 (n) (2) and the powers granted to the Police Establishment Board (PEB) of Commissioner rank, a decision was taken by the PEB established under Mumbai Police commissionerate following which the following the deputy commissioner of police rank officers were transferred.”
Section 22 (n) (2) stated: “…in exceptional cases, in public interest and on account of administrative exigencies, the Competent Authority shall make mid-term transfer of any Police Personnel of the police force.” It added, “ The competent authority for officers of the IPS is the Chief Minister.”
An official said that the order of the copy, which listed the transfers of the 10 officers, was marked to the additional chief secretary of the home department.
A member of the government said there had been an “unofficial understanding” that Shiv Sena would have an important say in postings of officers in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. “But it appears that the transfer of the officers did not go down well and eventually, when all three parties were not on board, the order was cancelled,” an official said.
The flip-flop drew criticism from the BJP that questioned the priorities of the government in the times of a pandemic. BJP’s Maharashtra spokesperson, Ram Kadam, told mediapersons that while one party transfers officers, the other stops them. “It is a government of three parties that does not agree on anything and hence, the Covid-19 situation in Maharashtra has gotten worse,” he said.
On Sunday, the 10 officers who had moved on to the new postings, returned to their old ones. Among them, Sangramsingh Nishandar returned as DCP (Zone I) after having taken charge as DCP (Operations), and Paramjit Singh Dahiya, who was made DCP (Zone I), had to return to his posting as DCP (Zone VII).
Nishandar, who as DCP (Operations) was also made the Mumbai Police spokesperson, handed the second charge back to DCP Pranaya Ashok, who returned as DCP (Operations).
Thursday’s transfers had also filled two slots that had fallen vacant after DCPs Abhinash Kumar and Niyati Thakkar-Dave went on central deputation. With those two posts vacant again after the rescinding of the orders, DCP N Ambika and DCP Pranaya Ashok will hold additional charge of their postings as DCP Zone III and V, respectively.
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