More than a month after the Supreme Court rejected the West Bengal government’s plea to allow it to appoint the state’s Director General of Police (DGP) without the involvement of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the Mamata Banerjee government has yet to submit a list of potential candidates to the central panel.
Instead, the government is continuing with acting DGP Manoj Malaviya, who took over the retirement of Virendra in August. According to a senior officer, it is planning to wait till the retirement of senior officers not in its good books so that it gets to appoint someone of its choice.
After Malaviya, among the seniormost IPS officers in the state are Suman Bala Sahoo, Neeraj Nayan Pandey and Adhir Sharma. All three were earlier asked to take voluntary retirement but they declined.
A senior officer who did not wish to be named told The Indian Express, “These three officers and four to five other officers who are in the top order of the list as per seniority are not in the good books of the ruling party. So, the West Bengal government plans to continue with a ‘temporary’ DGP for about one year as some of these officers will retire in that time and then the government will proceed to appoint a permanent DGP.”
On August 26, the UPSC wrote to the government pointing out that the names of four officers were missing from the list. As per the Supreme Court’s 2018 order in the 2006 Prakash Singh case on police reforms, a state is required to send the UPSC the names of all IPS officers from its cadre who have completed 30 years of service, irrespective of whether they are on central deputation or posted in the state. The central body then chooses three names from which a state selects one to head its police force.
The UPSC wrote back to the chief secretary saying that the names of Kuldeep Singh, Shashibhushan Singh Tomar, Zulfiqar Hasan and Sanjay Chander were not on the government’s list. Each of the officers is on deputation in Delhi or in another state.
The UPSC also added, “Out of the officers included in the eligibility list by the state government, biodata of one officer (Vivek Sahay) has not been furnished. It is mentioned that the biodata of all the officers included in the eligibility list are required to be furnished for consideration by the Empanelment Committee Meeting (ECM). Copy of the chargesheet issued to Shri Vivek Sahay may be furnished.”
The state moved the top court saying police and public order are subjects in the jurisdiction of states, and that the UPSC’s involvement would curtail the state’s legislative power. But a Supreme Court Bench rejected the petition on September 4.