UPSC tightens guidelines for appointment of State DGPs

Several States have appointed acting DGPs to avoid UPSC process; officials say guidelines were revised to discourage States from appointing “favourite officers” on the verge of retirement

November 02, 2023 12:30 am | Updated 09:19 am IST

File picture of UPSC headquarters in New Delhi

File picture of UPSC headquarters in New Delhi | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Only police officers with at least six months of service left before retirement will be considered for appointment as the Director General of Police of a State, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) said in amended guidelines issued last month.

In another change, the Empanelment Committee constituted by the UPSC will not assess Indian Police Service (IPS) officers on central deputation for a State DGP’s post if the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informs the State government that “it will not be possible to relieve the officers.”

Closing loopholes

Senior government officials say the amendments make explicit what have been considered unwritten norms, even as some States have appointed DGPs on the verge of retirement, and a number of States have appointed acting DGPs to avoid the UPSC process. A government source said the guidelines were revised to discourage States from appointing “favourite officers” about to retire, in a bid to extend their tenure.

The guidelines, which were amended on September 22 and sent to States on September 26, also allow officers with 25 years experience to be appointed as a DGP, against the earlier requirement of a minimum 30 years of service. The number of shortlisted officers cannot exceed three, but may consist of less than three officers in “exceptional circumstances”.

Officers will not be included in the panel unless they themselves are willing, the guidelines added.

States bypassing UPSC process

The amended UPSC guidelines come in the wake of several States, including BJP-ruled States, choosing to appoint acting DGPs instead of regular DGPs, bypassing the requirement to go through the UPSC-selected panel of eligible officers. States such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana have all appointed “in-charge” DGPs, or DGPs with “full additional charge”. In fact, Uttar Pradesh has not had a full-time DGP since 2022.

Former Punjab DGP V.K. Bhawra has moved the Central Administrative Tribunal against the appointment of Gaurav Yadav as acting DGP by the Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab. Mr. Bhawra was transferred midway through his term, although UPSC rules stipulate a two-year fixed tenure for a State DGP. In June this year, Punjab passed a legislation to independently appoint the State DGP, in a bid to circumvent the UPSC’s empanelment process. However, the Punjab Police (Amendment) Bill, 2023 is yet to get the Governor’s assent, without which it cannot become a law.

Though the police is a State subject, the IPS officers who are constituents of the All India Services are appointed by the UPSC on behalf of the Union government, and their services are placed under State cadres.

Tightening norms

A senior government official said on condition of anonymity: “States appoint acting DGPs to avoid the UPSC process. Though States send names of officers to be included in the panel, sometimes the names selected by UPSC are not acceptable to them.”

Another official said that the clause about not include the names of officers on central deputation in the UPSC panel against the Centre’s consent has always been implied but has never previously been defined. “It was open to interpretation. Even the condition that only those officers who have a remainder of a six-month service will be considered for the two-year post has been mentioned distinctly for the first time in the guidelines. Though the requirement was there, some States appointed DGPs on the verge of retirement, giving them an extended tenure,” the official said.

The UPSC had first framed guidelines for the preparation of a panel for appointment to the post of State DGPs in 2009, after the Supreme Court verdict in the police reforms case of 2006. Prakash Singh, former DGP of Uttar Pradesh had filed a petition regarding police reforms, following which the top court issued a slew of directions which required that the DGP 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 service record, and range of experience for heading the police force.

The committee to appoint the State DGP is headed by the UPSC Chairman and includes the Union Home Secretary, the State’s Chief Secretary and DGP, and one of the heads of the Central Armed Police Forces nominated by the MHA who is not from the same State cadre.

Defining experience

The revised guidelines issued this September indicate the relevant areas to assess the range of experience of an IPS officer to head a State police department. It requires ten years of experience in areas such as law and order, crime branch, economic offences wing, or intelligence wing, and deputation to central bodies such as the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, or Central Bureau of Investigation, among others.

In 2021, the Union government had proposed to amend the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954 to depute IAS, IPS, and IFoS (Indian Forest Service) officers to the Centre without necessarily taking the State government’s nod. Amid massive protest from the States, the proposal has been put in cold storage. The amendment was proposed as the Union government is facing an acute shortage of All India Services officers. Despite existing provisions, States are not sponsoring adequate officers for Central deputation. In many cases, officers are also not willing to serve the Union government.

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