The Centre may be headed for another confrontation with the West Bengal government over the continuation of the State Director-General of Police (DGP) in office after superannuation.
Citing a Supreme Court order, the Trinamool Congress government in the State had issued an order in July 2016, which allows Surajit Kar Purkayastha to remain in office for a fixed term of two years, though he attained superannuation on December 31.
This is not the first time that the court order has been used by a State government to let their choice of officers continue at the top post after they have crossed the retirement age of 60. The former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had used the order to appoint Ashok Kumar, a 1982-batch IPS officer, DGP in November 2014 for a fixed term of two years, though the officer attained superannuation in June 2015. Mr. Kumar, however, took voluntary retirement in September 2016, two months before his tenure would have come to an end.
A Home Ministry official said the All India Services Act, 1951, barred any officer from continuing in office after retirement, unless it has been cleared by the Centre.
“The W.B. government has not informed us about this notification. Certain States have been using the 2006 SC order to let retired officers continue. We are examining the order as it is being interpreted by state governments differently,” the official said.
Prakash Singh, former DGP of Uttar Pradesh who had filed the petition in SC regarding police reforms, following which the apex court issued an order for a fixed two year term for state DGPs, said the W.B government had followed the rules.
“As per the SC order, the state government doesn’t have to inform the Centre. The order clearly says that the state DGP would be appointed for two years, irrespective of the superannuation. The SC meant that if an officer has six months or more of service left, then he can be appointed to the post. However, some states have not been following the order in spirit. For example Uttar Pradesh appointed DGPs in the past for one month, three months and six months,” said Mr. Singh.
Another Home Ministry official said, “we will seek an explanation from the W.B government. We are taking the help of legal experts to understand if service rules have been violated.”
Another official said that after the SC order, its implementation has not been monitored effectively.