THE CENTRE is all set to clear a proposal from the Gujarat government to grant an extension of three months to Director General of Police (DGP) P P Pandey, the in-charge police chief of Gujarat. A 1980-batch IPS officer, Pandey is the seniormost IPS named by the CBI in its chargesheet in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case. Pandey took over in April 2016 and was to retire on Tuesday, but is likely to an extension once it is cleared by the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by the Prime Minister, officials said.
According to officials, the Gujarat government has already given a go-ahead to Pandey’s name and sent the proposal seeking a nod from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the cadre-controlling authority for IPS officers. The MHA is learnt to have sought an approval from the ACC. Sources in the government confirmed that an extension for Pandey was likely to be communicated to the state government late Monday night.
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Gujarat has also urged the Centre to approve the extension for Pandey before his term expires, ostensibly to help avoid any legal hurdles. Sources said the state may want 1982-batch IPS Geetha Johri, who is due for retirement later this year, to succeed Pandey. Johri was elevated as DGP after the CBI dropped charges against her in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, said officials privy to the development.
Johri’s senior from Gujarat, H P Singh, is likely to retire in March this year. In 2013, the CBI had chargesheeted Pandey along with retired IPS officer D G Vanzara, G L Singhal (an IPS officer), Superintendent of Police N K Amin, Deputy Superintendent of Police Tarun Barot and two other officers, who are all out on bail. They were accused of conspiracy, kidnapping, murder of Ishrat Jahan and three others. In December 2016, Pandey filed a discharge application in the case before the CBI special court, claiming that there is no material evidence against him suggesting his direct or indirect involvement. The CBI is expected to file its reply in court on February 4.
Pandey took over as part-time police chief after the sudden exit of his predecessor P C Thakur, who retired last December. The move prompted former state DGP Julio Ribeiro to move Gujarat High Court challenging Pandey’s elevation. The court dismissed the petition in August 2016 on the ground that Pandey has been given additional charge “as a stop-gap arrangement”, and that it was not a regular appointment. Ribeiro subsequently moved the Supreme Court, where the matter is pending.