The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) Friday set aside the appointment of Dinkar Gupta as Director General of Punjab Police. The bench of Justice L Narasimha Reddy and Mohd Jamshed gave its ruling on an appeal by Mohammad Mustafa and Siddharth Chattopadhyaya, who had challenged Gupta’s appointment on the ground they were senior to him and had outstanding service records.
“There cannot be a better instance of arbitrariness and favoritism, than this,” observed the bench in its 54-page order, while directing the UPSC and the empanelment committee to form a new panel of three senior-most officers to appoint a DGP within four weeks.
“Gupta is still the DGP,” Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said, adding that the home department will challenge the order in the High Court. Mustafa welcomed the order saying that “justice has prevailed”.
While Mustafa is a 1985-batch officer and Chattopadhyaya a 1986-batch officer, Gupta is a 1987-batch officer. Gupta, who was appointed DGP in 2019, superseded five senior officers, including Mustafa and Chattopad-hyaya.
In his previous stint, Gupta was posted as DGP, Intelligence, Punjab. He had an eight-year-stint on Central deputation with the Home Ministry from June 2004 to July 2012, where he held many sensitive assignments.
In the plea filed last year, Mustafa and Chattopadhyaya had said, “The empanelment was done by a committee headed by then DGP Suresh Arora who was biased against Chattopadhyaya.”
The police officers also opposed the contention of the empanelment committee, which sent a report to the UPSC, saying they lacked experience in core policing areas.
The petitioners contended that the Supreme Court had held that selection and appointment of DGP of any state shall be made on the basis of length of service, record, and range of experience. They said the UPSC and Punjab government had completely deviated from this procedure.
The UPSC and Empanelment Committee, Punjab, in reply, had submitted that a proposal was received from the state government for preparation of a panel for appointment to the post of DGP, and a panel of three officers was prepared taking into account factors such as length of service and residual service of the eligible officers, their ACRs and experience. However, it pleaded that they was ignorant about the alleged indictment of Gupta by the SIT appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The Punjab government in reply submitted that the selection and appointment of Gupta was done in accordance with norms laid down by the apex court, and draft guidelines of the UPSC. It denied the petitioners’ allegations about the indictment of Gupta.
Gupta had also said in his reply that he has a meritorious record, particularly in the field of intelligence, and the selection depends on the satisfaction of the Selection Committee, and once a candidate is selected, the unsuccessful candidates cannot challenge it simply on the ground that they were senior.
The retired DGP, Suresh Arora had stated that he had no prejudice or ill will against Chattopadhyaya.
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