Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil has yet again recommended wholesale changes to transfer postings of IPS officers recommended by the state governments Police Establishment Board (PEB),prompting Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to demand a review by his NCP Cabinet colleague before he clears the file.
According to government sources,Patil proposed changes to 16 of the 21 recommendations of IPS officers transfer postings made by the DGP-chaired PEB. We need to exercise caution,especially when the Supreme Court is closely monitoring police reforms across states, said a senior government functionary,who did not wish to be named.
With the onset of monsoon to be followed with festivities,the police brass is worried that delays in transfers and postings would impact overall security. Given the quantum of changes proposed by Patil,the Chief Minister met NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel recently in the presence of the Advocate General.
The CM is learnt to be of the view that more than 50 per cent changes in the PEB list will be seen as abnormal and could invite criticism,not just from within the police establishment,but also from the judiciary. In April this year,the Supreme Court asked states to update it on the setting up of Security Commissions within a week. The objective of the commissions is to insulate the police from political interference.
The government sources said the file is back with Patil now. The home secretary may be asked to play the role of a mediator between the police establishment and the political class,they said. One of the suggestions being discussed was to reduce the total number of transfers and postings to 16 or 14 so that the department or the minister can have his way in about seven-eight cases where it is seen as necessary to make changes.
Such political interference in the recent past had upset the present DGP Sanjeev Dayal.
In April this year,the home department had wrested powers to transfer police inspectors,assistant police inspectors and sub-inspectors from the DGP. Several former IPS officers of repute including Julio Ribeiro and Satish Sahney and former bureaucrat D M Sukhtankar had separately written to the Chief Minister that taking away the powers to transfer and promote would weaken the police brasss authority over the force. The home department restored the powers in May.
Last June,the then DGP K Subramanyam had written to the home department pointing to glaring differences in the recommendations made by the PEB and the actual transfers effected by the department. While it is the governments prerogative to modify proposals,transparency and good governance demanded that the DGP be apprised of the reasons for making changes to PEB recommendations,he said. The department had transferred 27 officers of the rank of superintendent though the PEBs list did not include them.