New Delhi: A grouse sometimes heard in Britain — if not literally true — is that the Royal Navy these days has more admirals than ships. But when it comes to the Indian Police Service (IPS), there are more admirals than sailors to keep the proverbial ship afloat.
Take for instance the case of Uttar Pradesh, the largest state cadre, where there are 78 director-general (DG) and additional director general-rank (ADG) officers, against a combined sanctioned strength of only 28. Many of these top-ranking IPS officers are serving in posts that have only a tenuous link with policing — like DG (special inquiry), DG (power corporation), ADG (technical services), ADG (telecom), and so on.
However, government data shows quite the opposite situation, whether in states or in the Union government, for mid-level officers — the inspector generals (IGs), deputy inspector generals (DIGs), and superintendents of police (SPs) who manage and supervise the agencies and forces. In their case, there is a crunch at the state as well as central levels.
For a few years now, the Modi administration has drawn attention to the shortage of IPS officers serving in the central government, with a major complaint being that states aren’t sending enough officers on central deputation.
Data available with the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is the cadre-controlling ministry of the IPS, and the Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D), shows that the Union government has only two vacancies each for DG- and ADG-ranked officers across its 17 central police organisations, agencies and forces. But for DIG and IG positions, it has 90 and 30 posts open, according to the vacancies as of 1 November for IPS officers in central police organisations and forces. It’s a similar situations in states, too.
“The IPS has become the worst-managed cadre,” said the DGP of a state.
Like him, several serving and retired IPS officers that ThePrint spoke to drew attention to cadre management issues that have resulted in the top-heaviness of the IPS structure in several states, of which UP is just one example.
“The states are naturally becoming top heavy and it is a peculiar problem for Uttar Pradesh. Even though choosing to work at the Centre depends on the individual officer largely, the states also at times do not encourage officers to go on deputation,” said N. Ramachandran, a former DGP of Meghalaya and president of the New Delhi-based law enforcement think tank India Police Foundation.
‘Insignificant and unsubstantial positions’
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled state of Uttar Pradesh has had a poor record of contributing to the central deputation reserve (CDR), but the state’s IPS civil list also suggests that it’s going to great lengths to keep its senior officers occupied.
As of this year, UP had seven sanctioned positions for DGs, the highest IPS rank, but is accommodating 15. Similarly, while the sanctioned strength of ADGs is 21 in UP, there are currently over three times that number — 63 — serving in the state.
It’s a different story for the middle ranks. For instance, against 51 sanctioned IG positions, it has 31, and against 50 sanctioned DIG positions it has 39.
Of its pool of 167 senior officers, only 28 are on central deputation, reveals the civil list of the Uttar Pradesh Police.
While at least six senior officers are “waiting” to be posted, numerous others are in positions that seem to be a bit of a stretch. For instance, there are DGs of human rights, special inquiry, power corporation, and home guard. There are ADGs of training, human rights, Police Awas Yojana, telecom, and technical services.
IPS officers who have served in the state claim that some of these positions are not under the police directorate and that others have very little to do with policing. Some positions, they said, were created just to promote officers, while others were “redundant”.
Speaking to ThePrint, ex-DGP of Uttar Pradesh O.P. Singh said there was a need for “serious deliberations” on these issues.
“There is an urgent need for cadre management. A year-wise projection for required strength for states is also essential now. The cadres need to be restructured. Some positions need to be renamed or can have a fresh nomenclature,” he said.
On the question of UP’s paltry contributions to the CDR, he said that the state “has always been like that”.
“The states are generally reluctant to send officers to the Centre. There are needs in the states too. However, largely, the officers also do not opt for central deputation as they do not want to come out of their state cadres,” he added.
Ramachandran was more blunt. “The officers get cosy at the state, and do not want to slog at the Centre. They serve in the states holding insignificant and insubstantial positions, but still want to be there. And the state often creates positions to park officers,” he said.
A dry spell for the central government
Despite the surplus of senior officers in states like UP, the central government has numerous mid-level vacancies that need to be filled, including 30 vacant positions for IG ranked officers and 90 DIG-ranked officers. The Intelligence Bureau (IB), too, has vacancies for 35 DIG-rank positions.
A senior IPS officer serving in the MHA said that he believed there should be “mandatory deputation” from all states for SP- and DIG-rank officers for a certain number of years.
“The deputation should be considered as the way forward to get empanelled as IGs and should be under both CSS (Central Staffing Scheme) and non-CSS. They should be empanelled as IGs and joint secretaries too. This is the only way to solve the crunch of officers at the Centre and to manage cadres in the state,” he said.
In a similar vein, the MHA in April had proposed that IPS officers who haven’t served on central deputation as SPs or DIGs should be barred from serving in central agencies at senior levels, but no order was issued on this.
In September, the central government made another attempt to tighten controls on how state governments appoint and promote IPS officers. The MHA made it mandatory for states to seek the Union government’s approval before promoting or appointing any senior IPS officer, or else risk having the posting cancelled. This was seen as an attempt to clamp down on the creation of posts just to promote officers and other such practices in the states.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)