Legal Correspondent

No merits in petitions filed by Maharashtra, Punjab and Tamil Nadu, says apex court Bench

Considered a setback to Centre and the States

Court had directed Centre and States to appoint security commissions

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a batch of petitions, including those filed by Maharashtra, Punjab and Tamil Nadu, seeking a review of its order passed last year to implement sweeping directions on police reforms.

In September 2006, a three-Judge Bench gave a series of directions to the States on a petition filed by Prakash Singh and others seeking implementation of the reports of various police commissions and the draft report of Soli Sorabjee Committee set up in September 2005.

Petitions were filed seeking review of the order on the ground that there were practical difficulties in implementing most of the directions.

In a setback to the Centre and the States, a Bench consisting of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justices C.K. Thakker and P.K. Balasubramanyan on Thursday dismissed the review petitions that had ‘no merits.’

Last year’s directive to the Centre and the States was to set up National and State Security Commissions for selection and appointment of personnel and to ensure complete autonomy in the police administration.

A national commission should be set up to prepare a committee for being placed before the appropriate appointing authority, for selection and placement of chiefs of the Central Police Organisations (CPOs) with a minimum tenure of two years, it had held.

It wanted the States to set up such commissions to ensure that the State government “does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the State police and for laying down the broad policy guidelines so that the State police always acts according to the laws of the land and the Constitution.”

It said the DGP of the State should be selected by the government from among the three seniormost officers of the department who had been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the Union Public Service Commission.

Further it said “police officers on operational duties in the field like the Inspector-General of Police in-charge of the zone, DIGs in charge of Range, Superintendent of Police in charge the district and State House officers shall also have a prescribed minimum tenure of two years.”

It wanted the States to separate ‘law and order’ and ‘investigation’ to ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people.

It directed the States to set up a Police Establishment Board to decide all transfers, postings and promotions and other service-related matters of officers below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.

Complaints authority

Further there should be a Police Complaints Authority at the district level to look into complaints against police officers up to the rank of DSP and at the State level for officers above the level of Superintendent of Police.

The court had asked the States to implement the directions within three months. But most of the States found it difficult to comply with the order and sought a review, which has now been rejected.