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SC extends tenures of Punjab, Haryana DGPs till Jan 31

twitter-logoPTI | December 12, 2018 | Updated 19:04 IST

New Delhi, Dec 12 (PTI) The Supreme Court Wednesday extended till January 31 the tenures of present DGPs of Punjab and Haryana and agreed to hear the states' pleas seeking to implement their local laws regarding selection and appointment of the police chief. The director general of police (DGP) -- Suresh Arora (Punjab) and B S Sandhu (Haryana) -- were due to retire on December 31 and now they will remain in office till January 31. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph was hearing the pleas of Punjab, Haryana and Bihar governments seeking modification of its earlier order directing all the states to mandatorily take the assistance of the UPSC in short-listing the names for appointing DGP. The top court, on July 3 this year, had passed a slew of directions on police reforms in the country and chronicled the steps for appointment of regular DGPs. It had stated that the states will have to send a list of senior police officers to Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) at least three months prior to the retirement of the incumbent. The commission will then prepare a panel and intimate to the states, which in turn will immediately appoint one of the persons from that list. The Punjab, Haryana and Bihar governments, represented by senior advocates P Chidambaram, Shyam Divan and Ranjit Kumar respectively, said Wednesday that they have already framed a comprehensive law, dealing with the procedures to appoint the DGP, in pursuance of the 2006 apex court verdict on police reforms. They said the apex court's directives on appointment of DGPs needed to be modified with respect to the three states. "Your (states) legislations have been put on hold by the July 3 order. That order has to be vacated and for that we will have to hear the other side," the bench said. It said in the meantime, it would allow the incumbent DGPs of Punjab and Haryana to continue till January 31 and would hear their pleas on January 8. The court took note of the submission of lawyer Shoeb Alam, who was also appearing for Bihar government, that the tenure of state DGP was till January last and hence, no such order extending the tenure was needed. The apex court, while deciding the PIL filed by two former DGPs Prakash Singh and N K Singh in 2006, had issued several directions, including setting up of a state security commission, to ensure that the government does not exercise unwarranted influence on the police. It had said the appointment of DGPs and police officers should be merit-based and transparent and officers like DGPs and Superintendents of Police (SPs) should have a minimum fixed tenure of two years. However when states enacted laws providing mechanism for DGP selection, the apex court had on July 3 kept the state laws in abeyance. The West Bengal government has also filed a similar plea, but that has not been listed so far for hearing. Earlier, the apex court had passed a slew of directions on police reforms and had restrained all states and union territories from appointing any police officer as acting DGPs. The directions had come on an application filed by the Centre in which it claimed that certain states have been appointing acting DGPs and then making them permanent just before the date of their superannuation to enable them get the benefit of an additional two-year tenure till the age of 62 years. The bench had ordered keeping in abeyance any rule or legislation framed by any of the states or the Centre running counter to the earlier direction of the court. The court, however, had said that if any state has a grievance with regard to the directions, then they may approach it for modification of the order. The apex court, on September 8 last year, had agreed to hear a clutch of pleas observing that its historic 2006 verdict on police reforms, recommending steps like fixed tenures for DGPs and SPs, has not yet been implemented by states and union territories. PTI SJK RKS SA

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