Other States

Supreme Court says ‘no’ to Bengal plea on DGP appointment

West Bengal government under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had filed a plea in SC seeking no role of UPSC in appointment of DGP. File

West Bengal government under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had filed a plea in SC seeking no role of UPSC in appointment of DGP. File

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a West Bengal plea questioning the authority of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to shortlist the names for Director Generals of Police (DGPs) based on a judgment of the court.

One of the seven directives of the Prakash Singh judgment in 2007 is that a Chief Minister has to choose from among the three most senior police officers empanelled by the UPSC for the DGP post.

These officers should have a guaranteed tenure as DGP for minimum two years. The judgment was a conscious reformative step to thwart attempts by State governments to appoint pliant officers at the top.

However, West Bengal argued that the power granted to the UPSC, a Central body, to prepare the panel was a direct attack on the federal structure of governance. The subject of ‘police’ belonged to the State list.

The State’s plea came at a time when the CBI has written to the West Bengal DGP office for information about the alleged incidents of murder and rape in the post poll violence in the State.

‘State repeating itself’

The court was not impressed by West Bengal’s submissions. It said the State had earlier also come to the apex court with identical arguments. The court said the State was repeating itself and heedlessly wasting judicial time.

“Why are you bringing such matters and wasting time? As it is we have individuals filing the kinds of petitions that should not even be heard, now States are coming up with such petitions... On one hand, you yourself say urgent matters of bail, etc, are not being heard by the court, and then you come with such petitions... Is this not abuse of the law,” Justice L. Nageswara Rao, who headed a three-judge Bench, asked senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, for West Bengal.

The court, however, allowed the State to implead itself in the main case on police reforms.

Noting that the main case in which the court is monitoring compliance by States “has not seen the light of the day for years,” the Bench, also comprising, Justices B.R. Gavai and B.V. Nagarathna, said it would take up the main matter for hearing in October.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for former IPS officer Prakash Singh, submitted that “unfortunately, in most States, implementation of directions of the court remains unimplemented.”

In its application, West Bengal said the 2006 judgment was “not in consonance with extant constitutional and legal framework”. The State has the autonomy to select the DGP.

It argued, “The Constitution does not vest the UPSC with the power to assess the respective merit of the officers holding the rank of DGP in the State for determining the fitness to be appointed as the DGP, Head of Police Force of the State... It is the State government which can have the proximate opportunity to assess the fitness of officers...”

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 10:51:02 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/supreme-court-says-no-to-bengal-plea-on-dgp-appointment/article36268025.ece