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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Explained: Why Maharashtra govt is waiting for UPSC decision on state DGP contenders

The state government, in keeping the Supreme Court directions, will select the next Maharashtra DGP from the three officers.

Written by Mohamed Thaver , Edited by Explained Desk |
Updated: September 1, 2021 9:32:04 am
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. (Express Photo)

On Tuesday, the UPSC is meeting to shortlist names of three IPS officers that it will send to the Maharashtra government for appointment as state DGP. The state government, in keeping the Supreme Court directions, will select the next Maharashtra DGP from the three officers.

So, why is the Maharashtra government waiting for the UPSC decision keenly and what changes could the list effect in the Maharashtra Police?

What is the procedure to appoint a DGP as laid down by the Supreme Court?

In the 2006 Prakash Singh judgment, the Supreme Court laid down procedures for appointment of a DGP so that there is no political interference. As per the guidelines, the state government was to select the DGP from the list of three officers selected by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) that would have gone through the records of all the eligible officers from the state cadre. In Maharashtra’s case, a list of 20 officers with over 30 years tenure is present with UPSC. While initially the SC had said the person selected should have at least a two-year service period remaining, it was later reduced to six months. The Supreme Court also barred the state government from appointing DGP’s on acting basis.

Then why does the Maharashtra Police have an acting DGP for over four months now?

Soon after Subodh Jaiswal, a 1985-batch officer who was the former Maharashtra DGP, went on central deputation as CBI chief in the last week of May, the 1986-batch officer Sanjay Pandey was made the ‘acting’ DGP by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. While the Prakash Singh judgment does not allow officers to be appointed as “acting DGP”, the Maharashtra government said that Jaiswal had left for CBI midway his posting and had not retired, which would have given the state time to appoint a full-time DGP. It has been over four months that Pandey has been the acting DGP of Maharashtra during which time the names of 20 officers were sent to UPSC to shortlist the candidates. On Tuesday the UPSC is believed to decide on Pandey’s fate.

What happens if Sanjay Pandey is not in UPSC’s list of three?

In case the UPSC does not send Pandey’s name, the Maharashtra government will have to appoint a new DGP in his place from the three persons whose names are forwarded by the UPSC. If his name is there in the list, the state government is likely to confirm his appointment as the Maharashtra DGP.

Has it happened in the past in Maharashtra that an acting DGP has had to move out if his name was not in the UPSC list?

Even though the Prakash Singh judgment came out in 2006, several states like Maharashtra took time to comply with it fully. It is believed that it was during the appointment of Jaiswal as the DGP in 2019 during the previous BJP government in Maharashtra , the state had sent a list of officers to UPSC and Jaiswal’s name was present in the list of three candidates in addition to other senior officers — Bipin Bihar and Sanjay Barve.

The notable thing is that Sanjay Pandey’s name was not present then even though he was eligible. It is, however, not clear if the state government did not send his name to UPSC or if the UPSC did not select him. Sources said that for a certain period between 2000 and 2010 when he was away from service – he quit the force and rejoined it later when the government did not accept his resignation – which could have worked against him.

What are the changes expected if Pandey’s name is not present in the UPSC list ?

The senior-most officer after Pandey is Hemant Nagrale, a 1987-batch officer who is currently the Mumbai Police Commissioner. If his name features in the list, he could be made the DGP and a new Mumbai police commissioner could be appointed. The other option is the state could decide to post another officer whose name has appeared in the list of the three as the DGP even though he may be junior to the Mumbai Police Commissioner. However, in case Pandey’s name is present in the list, these changes could be avoided.

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