THE SUPREME Court said on Wednesday that only officers who have at least six months of service left before retirement should be considered for being appointed as Director General of Police (DGP).
Clarifying its July 3, 2018 order regarding appointment of DGPs, a bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna said the “recommendation for appointment to the post of DGP by the Union Public Service Commission and preparation of panel should be purely on the basis of merit from officers who have a minimum residual tenure of six months i.e. officers who have at least six months of service prior to retirement.”
The Supreme Court has been monitoring police reforms in the Prakash Singh & others vs Union of India & others case, and has issued directions regarding appointment of DGPs from time to time — including fixing a two-year tenure and directing that the DGP should be chosen from a panel of three most senior officers empanelled by the UPSC.In its July 3, 2018 order, the court took note of states appointing officers as DGP on the eve of their retirement, and said this went against the spirit of its directions. It asked the UPSC to ensure that those who are empanelled “as far as practicable… have got clear two years of service”.
However, applications were filed before the court pointing out that the UPSC was considering only those with residual service of two years for empanelment, and “in the process… many suitable and eligible officers are being left out”.
The court said its direction on a minimum two-year tenure for a DGP “neither contemplated the appointment of a DGP on the eve of his retirement nor the practice now adopted by the UPSC in making the empanelment, i.e. empanelling officers who have at least two years of tenure”.
It said “neither of the aforesaid practice, in our considered view, can further” the directions in the Prakash Singh case “or give impetus to” what it had in mind in issuing the directions “that the appointment of a DGP… should be purely on the basis of merit and, to insulate the said office from all kinds of influences and pressures, once appointed the incumbent should get a minimum tenure of two years of service irrespective of his date of superannuation”.
“Neither this court had contemplated recommendation for appointment of officers who are on the verge of retirement or appointment of officers who have a minimum residual tenure of two years,” it said. “The emphasis was to select the best and to ensure a minimum tenure of two years’ service of such officer who is to be selected and appointed,” it said.
Fixing a “reasonable” six- month period “will take care of any possible action on the part of the state government which can be viewed by any quarter as an act of favouritism,” said the court.