The Punjab and Haryana High Court Thursday upheld the appointment of senior IPS officer Sumedh Singh Saini as Director General of Police,Punjab saying he was legally competent to hold the post.
Finding no fault in the decision making process of the state government,a division bench of Chief Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain dismissed a petition filed by an NGO in April last year challenging Sainis appointment as Punjab DGP by the SAD-BJP government.
Dismissing the petition,the bench said it appears difficult for this Court to interfere with the decision of the government and held that the scope of judicial enquiry in service matters was limited. The court also observed that Saini was ranked most meritorious in competitive merit by the state government.
Saini,then Chief Director of Punjab Vigilance Bureau,was appointed as DGP on March 14 last year.
The NGO,Voices for Freedom,had in its petition alleged that all procedures were not followed and Saini was appointed to the top post despite a criminal case of alleged abduction and killing of three persons in Ludhiana district pending against him.
However,in a big relief to the Punjab government and its DGP,the Bench also took up the manner of selection and said,The entire material was placed before the selection committee and the pendency of the criminal case was well within its knowledge.
This aspect was specifically discussed and deliberated. Notwithstanding,the pendency of this criminal case,the appointing authority choose to appoint Saini as DGP. Thus,it is not a case where some material was suppressed from the selection committee or the appointing authority or they were kept in dark.
Observing that while Saini facing a trial is a relevant factor which has to be given due weightage,the Court also took into account the flip side of the case - that there is no stay on the trial in the case by a superior court and also that Sainis revision petition against his chargesheet is hanging fire in a Delhi court.
The bench referred to the stand taken by Punjab and Sainis counsel that the trial is getting delayed because of the conduct and attitude of the complainant.
In its defence,Punjab Advocate General Ashok Aggarwal had contended that the PIL was totally motivated with aim to tarnish the image of an honest and bold police officer.
Aggarwal had also averred that there was no embargo or inhibition in considering the case of an officer who was facing criminal charge . Mere framing of charge against an officer is of no consequence and he would be debarred only when the trial results into conviction by the court, Aggarwal had contended.
On the other hand,Rupinder Singh Khosla,counsel for Saini had submitted that it was the complainant,in the trial,to be blamed for the delay in the case and not Saini.
All procedural formalities were taken care of while appointing Saini as the DGP and we do not find any fault in his appointment, the bench said,dismissing the PIL.