SC asks Jharkhand to respond to UPSC over delay in DGP appointment

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren with current DGP of Jharkhand Neeraj Sinha, at CM residential office in Ranchi. File Photo
| Photo Credit: PTI

Taking note of the delay in the appointment of a new police chief in Jharkhand, the Supreme Court has directed the state government to respond to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to cure the defects in the proposal for recommending the names of officers for the post of the DGP.

The incumbent Jharkhand Director General of Police (DGP), Neeraj Sinha, a 1987 batch IPS officer, is scheduled to retire on February 11, 2023.

“Naresh Kaushik, counsel appearing on behalf of the UPSC, states that on November 30, 2022, UPSC has issued a communication to the State of Jharkhand adverting to certain defects which were found in the proposal for recommending officers for the post of DGP,” a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha said on Friday.

“We direct the State of Jharkhand to attend to the requisitions which have been furnished by UPSC and to positively submit its reply on or before December 23. UPSC shall thereafter take consequential action no later than January 9, 2023,” the bench noted in its order and listed the contempt plea against the state government and others for January 16 next year for hearing.

The apex court is seized of a contempt petition against the Jharkhand government and its present DGP Neeraj Sinha alleging that he has been occupying the post even after superannuation on January 31, 2022.

Earlier, the apex court, while hearing a separate petition, had directed the UPSC and the Bihar government to expeditiously decide the name of the successor to the incumbent DGP S K Singhal who is demitting office on December 19.

R S Bhatti, an IPS officer of the 1990 batch, was appointed the Bihar police chief on Sunday.

As per the present contempt plea, the present Jharkhand DGP has been holding the top post even after his superannuation on January 31, 2022.

The supreme court had on July 14, 2021 issued notices on the contempt plea against the state government, its top officials, and the UPSC for alleged violation of its verdict. Sinha was later made a party to the contempt plea.

“The Respondents (state government, DGP, and others) are in continuous violation of the orders passed by this court. It has come to the knowledge of the petitioner that the tenure of respondent 3 (DGP) who has been appointed by the state government to the post of DG and IGP (Inspector-General of Police), Jharkhand has expired on January 31.

“The respondent 3 has crossed the age of retirement but still continues to be on the current post which is also in the teeth of the orders passed by this court,” the plea had said.

The apex court had on September 3, 2021 pulled up the state government and the Union Public Service Commission for their role in the appointment of an interim DGP in alleged violation of the top court’s judgement that had fixed two-year tenure for a state police chief who has to be selected from a list of senior police officers to be prepared by the UPSC.

It was irked over the fact that the state government had then appointed IPS officer Neeraj Sinha as an ad-hoc Director General of Police (DGP) following which the UPSC was refusing to prepare a list of senior police officers for the selection of the DGP.

Prior to this, on July 14 last year, the top court had issued show-cause notices to the Chief Secretary of Jharkhand and the UPSC Chairman, on the plea seeking contempt action against them for the alleged violation of the 2006 judgement of the top court rendered in the Prakash Singh case.

The plea alleged that the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led UPA government flouted the verdict, which, besides issuing many directions on police reforms, had fixed a two-year assured tenure for DGPs.

The 2006 supreme court verdict in the Prakash Singh case had said the DGP of a state shall be “selected by the state government from amongst the three senior-most officers of the Department who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the UPSC on the basis of their length of service, very good record and range of experience for heading the police force.” And, once an officer has been selected for the job, he/she should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation, the plea had said.

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