Action against police hinges on Centre-State ties

CHENNAI, JULY 6. Even as the Tamil Nadu Government is examining the Centre's call for action against some police officers involved in the arrest of the DMK president, Mr. M. Karunanidhi, and the Union Ministers, Mr. Murasoli Maran and Mr. T. R. Baalu, initiating departmental action seems to hinge on the delicate nature of Centre-State relations.

With no precedent, the issue seems to have kindled curiosity given the stand of the Director-General of Police, Mr. A. Ravindranath, who said he would stand by the police officers vis- a-vis the Centre's insistence that action be taken.

Quoting the Indian Police Service (cadre) Rules, police sources say that in general the Centre itself can in a way ``take action'' against any erring officer, transferring him or her from one cadre to another. However that will be possible only with the concurrence of the State Government concerned. Even the allocation of members to various cadres shall be made by the Centre in consultation with the State Government concerned.

The sources argue that when the Centre usually concurs with a request from any State Government for reverting an officer on deputation to the Union Government to the cadre concerned, it is equally possible for the Centre to transfer an officer from one cadre to another.

The next option the Centre can think of is deputation of cadre officers. The rule reads: A cadre officer may, with the concurrence of the State Government or the State Governments concerned and the Centre be deputed for service under the Centre or another State Government or under a company association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not, which is wholly or substantially owned or controlled by the Centre or by another State Government.

Here again the concurrence of the State Government is necessary. In this context, the sources recall that several years ago, when the Union Government requisitioned the services of a DIG for posting in the para- military force, the State Government turned down the plea. However, the Centre did not persist with the demand. ``It is only here that the Centre- State relations comes in to the picture.''

The Centre, it seems, will have the final say also if there is disagreement. The rules provide that ``in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Central Government and the State Government or State Governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government.''

Being all-India service officers, the Centre can always bring pressure on any State Government to initiate action, as was evident from the ``delayed departmental action'' taken against some officers in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the sources explain.

``When all is said and done, the Centre is more powerful than the States. When it can initiate steps to impose President's rule, what prevents it from taking action against a few erring officers?'', asks a senior officer.