The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought the Attorney General’s assistance on a plea by the Jammu and Kashmir administration, seeking sanction for its decision to appoint Dilbagh Singh as acting DGP in place of former police chief S P Vaid. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra did not, however, disturb Singh’s appointment.
The state has approached the court, seeking exemption for itself from the guidelines regarding tenure of a DGP as laid down by the apex court in the 2006 Prakash Singh case. The apex court had, in that case, issued a slew or directions, including one that says there cannot be any acting DGP for any state and also made it mandatory for states to send a list of three seniormost IPS officers to the UPSC for clearance before appointing the DGP.
The J&K administration on September 6 appointed Singh as acting police chief, replacing S P Vaid who was posted as transport commissioner, without following this procedure. In its application filed through the Chief Secretary, the state said, “It may be pointed out that in view of the complex security concerns of the state, the peculiar ground situation prevailing therein, the upcoming panchayat and local body elections, insurgent and terror related activities, the unique law and order requirements etc, it is essential to have a head of the police force in the state of Jammu & Kashmir at all times.”
On Tuesday, Attorney General K K Venugopal, who appeared for the Centre, told the court that the prohibition on appointing an acting DGP was introduced to prevent misuse of the two-year tenure as fixed by the court. He said several states were making appointments of DGPs on acting basis and confirming them on the eve of superannuation.
Appearing for the state, advocate Shoeb Alam said Singh’s appointment was purely an ad-interim measure till a regular appointment was made in consultation with UPSC. “We cannot afford the police force to be without a chief,” he said. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioners in the 2006 case, said Vaid was removed without any charge and without consultation with state security commission as mandated by the 2006 order. He said the state’s action amounted to gross contempt and he would be filing a contempt application.