Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Despite No Vacancies, Himachal Government Appoints Three DGPs

The Wire: Gaurav Bhatnagar: New Delhi: Tuesday, June 27, 2017.
Himachal Pradesh, which is headed to the polls later this year, has gone on a recruitment spree for appointment of director generals of police (DGP) despite there being no vacancies for the same. It has also recruited ineligible officials for the posts.
Through an application filed under the RTI Act by lawyer-activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya, it was revealed that despite the screening committee being informed about the non-availability of the sanctioned posts of DGPs in the state, the state government went ahead to grant promotions to three IPS officers, one of them promoted on the last day of his service, bringing the total number of DGPs in the state to six against the sanctioned posts of two.
Further, the query revealed that even after the screening committee was told about the ineligibilities of the prospective DGPs, the process wasn’t stalled.
One of them on eve of retirement
The promotions were granted to three IPS officers, one of who is on eve of his retirement.
The screening committee of Himachal Pradesh was called upon in November 2016 to decide on the appointments of the new DGP. Himachal Pradesh chief secretary V.C. Pharka had called a meeting of departmental promotion committee on November 29. “The entire exercise was done to promote one IPS officer, B.N.S. Negi, to the post of DGP prior to his retirement (which was due on the last day of the month),” said Bhattacharya. Two more officers were listed for promotion.
All three officers had not completed 30 years of mandatory service
The memorandum for consideration of the screening committee for the promotions was prepared by the joint secretary of Himachal Pradesh. It stated that all the three IPS officers had not completed the mandatory 30 years of service. “When the government wanted to deny promotion to the senior most police officer of the state, it invoked this rule. Otherwise they have followed this rule only in breach of all the promotions of IPS officers to the rank of Director General of Police,” Bhattacharya said.
The memorandum also mentioned that as per the rule 3 (2) (ii) and (iii) of IPS (Pay) Rules, 2016, a promotion could be effected only if a vacancy exists. If there is none, prior sanction of the Central government is necessary. It had also mentioned that any appointment made without obtaining prior concurrence would be liable for cancellation.
Screening committee overlooked objections
And yet, Bhattacharya said, the screening committee still went ahead to grant illegal promotions to the three IPS officers – Prithvi Raj, T.K. Deka and B.N.S. Negi. The proceedings of the meeting of screening committee also mentioned that all these officers were not eligible for promotions.
Bhattacharya charged that the screening committee comprising chief secretary Pharka, additional chief secretary Tarun Shridhar, principal secretary Prabodh Saxena and DGP Sanjay Kumar therefore collectively violated the rules by approving the promotions. The promotions were accepted by chief minister Virbhadra Singh on November 29, 2016.
“This arbitrary act of the screening committee has caused unnecessary financial burden on the already cash strapped coffers of Himachal Pradesh and that too illegally,” claimed Bhattacharya.
Chief secretary knew there were just two posts of DGP
The file obtained by Bhattacharya also revealed that the chief secretary was informed that “against one sanctioned post of DG and one ex-cadre post (totalling two posts) in the state, three IPS officers have already been working/promoted to the rank of DGP.” Also, the official was told by the department that “the proposed officers have not completed the 30 years of essential service which is one of the requirements for promotion for post of DG” as mentioned in the guidelines of MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs), Government of India, dated January 15, 1999, as well as IPS (Pay) Rules 2016.
The file notings also revealed that Prithvi Raj would have completed 30 years of service on December 31, 2016 whereas B.N.S. Negi was to retire on November 30, 2016 on completion of 28 years and 11 months of service. As for Deka, the notings said, he was senior to Negi and would have to be considered for further promotion.
The file notings had mentioned that “there is no vacancy available for the post of DGP” and that the chief secretary was asked in early November 2016 “whether in the absence of any vacancy of the DG post and in relaxation of the applicable rules, the matter of promotion of the three IPS officers to the rank of DGP should be processed or not?”
Chief justice urged to stall appointments, punish panel members
In view of the discrepancies in the procedure adopted, Bhattacharya has urged the chief justice of Himachal Pradesh high court, Mansoor Ahmad Mir, to quash the notification of November 30, 2016 through which the promotions were granted to the three IPS officers and to initiate “appropriate action” against the members of the screening committee for recommending the promotions to the chief minister despite being apprised of the various shorcomings and irregularities in them. He has also sought stoppage of payment of salary and allowances and pension at the enhanced rates to the three new DGPs.