On September 6, the new Governor administration in J&K removed Director General of J&K Police S P Vaid. The brief order, issued at midnight by Principal Secretary to Government (Home) R K Goyal said that “in the interest of administration”, Vaid “is transferred” and posted as Transport Commissioner. Dilbagh Singh, a 1987-batch IPS officer then heading the Prisons Department, was asked to “hold the charge of the post of DGP till regular arrangement is made”. The government didn’t give any reason for the sudden removal of the police chief, who had joined the post on December 31, 2016.
On September 7, the Governor administration, through the Chief Secretary, approached the Supreme Court seeking “modification” of the court’s order that had laid down comprehensive guidelines regarding the appointment and removal of Director Generals of Police by state governments.
With the case coming up for hearing Thursday, a look at these guidelines, and how these relate to Vaid’s removal:
In its 2006 judgment in Prakash Singh vs Union of India (filed in 1996), the SC laid down guidelines for appointment and removal of the DGP. On July 3, 2018, the Supreme Court passed another order laying down further guidelines for the appointment of a DGP by the States, stressing that there is no concept of an acting DGP.
In the 2006 judgment, the SC said: “The Director General of Police of the State shall be selected by the State Government from amongst the three senior most officers of the department who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the Union Public Service Commission on the basis of their length of service, very good record and range of experience for heading the police force. And once he has been selected for the job, he should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation.” About removal, it said: The DGP may… be relieved of the responsibilities by the State government acting in consultation with the State Security Commission consequent upon any action taken against him under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules or following his conviction in a court of law in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption, or if he is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his duties”.
In the 2018 order, it said: “All the States shall send their proposals in anticipation of the vacancies to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) well in time at least three months prior to the date of retirement of the incumbent on the post of DGP. The UPSC shall prepare the panel as per directions of this court in the judgment in Prakash Singh’s case and intimate the Sates. The state shall immediately appoint one of the persons from the panel prepared by UPSC,’’ the Court ordered. “None of the States shall ever conceive of the idea of appointing any person on the post of DGP on acting basis for there is no concept of acting Director General of Police as per the decision in Prakash Singh’s case. An endeavour has to be made by all concerned to see that the person who was selected and appointed as DGP continues despite his date of superannuation.”
In its plea the day after it removed Vaid and appointed Dilbagh Singh as acting DGP, the Governor administration says this was done “due to certain emergent circumstances”. “Created by a pressing urgency, the decision to relieve the incumbent DGP and to appoint an In-charge DGP was imperative,’’ the J&K government plea before SC says. It did not, however, explain the “pressing urgency” and the “emergent circumstances” that led to its move.
About the interim appointment, the government said: “It may be pointed out that in view of the complex security concerns of the State, the peculiar ground situation prevailing therein, the upcoming panchayat and local bodies elections, insurgent and terror related activities, the unique law and order requirements etc, it is essential to have a head of the police force in J&K at all times. As such, as a purely ad-interim measure, the State government has been constrained to appoint the DG, Prisons Dilbagh Singh as the in-charge DGP till a regular arrangement is made.”
Since then, the state government has submitted a panel of five officers to UPSC – D R Doley, Navin Agarwal, V K Singh, Shiv Murari Sahai, and Dilbagh Singh.
Vaid & Singh
The Governor administration has not registered any case against Vaid that could have been cited as a reason for his removal. Even before removing him, the government had appointed an Additional Director General to take care of law & order.
Dilbagh Singh has served in various positions in the state police, but has had limited experience in policing and counter-inusrgency in the Valley. When he was additional DIG (Anantnag) in 1998, he was suspended after a high-level inquiry into a police recruitment scam indicted him. The case pertained to alleged irregularities in the recruitment of 478 J&K constables, whose appointment was later quashed. Singh was reinstated 10 months later.