Four months on, Yogi govt on the hunt for new police chief. Acting DGP is ‘frontrunner’

Four months on, Yogi govt on the hunt for new police chief. Acting DGP is ‘frontrunner’

After Mukul Goel was shunted from DGP post in May, Devendra Singh Chauhan was appointed acting DGP. UP govt has now submitted list of around 40 IPS officers to UPSC for consideration.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) headquarters in New Delhi | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) headquarters in New Delhi | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

Lucknow: On 13 May this year, the Uttar Pradesh government appointed an acting director general of police (DGP), without consulting the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) as directed by the Supreme Court. Now, after four months without a DGP, the state has sent a list of around 40 IPS (Indian Police Service) officers to the UPSC for consideration for the post of top cop in the politically significant state, ThePrint has learnt.

The UPSC sent some queries and observations on some of the names last week and the state government is “looking into them”, government officials confirmed to ThePrint.

In compliance with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines, an IPS officer should have completed a total of 30 years of service in order to be considered for promotion to the rank of DGP.

An analysis of the UP IPS gradation list done by ThePrint shows that a total of 40 IPS officers in the state fit this criterion.

“A list of all those officers who have completed 30 years of service has been sent along with observations about them. The senior-most IPS officers in UP are ones who have completed 34-35 years in service but, as per the rules, all officers who have completed even 30 years are on the list,” a senior central government official told ThePrint.

Acting DGP Devendra Singh Chauhan, though, remains the Yogi government’s top choice for the post, sources in the government told ThePrint.

The names, a senior officer said, have been sent in a manner that Chauhan remains in the bracket of the top three names. “He is the frontrunner for the post,” the officer said.

Current director general (civil defence) Mukul Goel, who was shunted from the post of DGP on 12 May due to alleged “disregard of government duty,” “lack of interest in departmental work” and “indolence”, has also found mention on the list since he is the senior-most officer in the state according to the gradation list.

Goel, who completed 35 years in service on 1 January 2022, is the senior-most officer in UP at present. So, his name has also made it to the list, but with a note about his previous stint as DGP which ended when he was shunted to the civil defence department,” an official source told ThePrint.

While some reports mentioned that a total of 42 names have been sent to the UPSC including 20 director general-rank and 22 additional director general-rank officers, sources in the Chief Minister’s Office did not confirm the exact number.

The UPSC became involved in the process of preparing a panel of eligible officers for the post of a state’s DGP following a landmark Supreme Court judgment on police reforms in 2006.

Senior Supreme Court lawyers told ThePrint that while the UP government’s appointment of an acting DGP is against the spirit of the 2006 Prakash Singh judgment on police reforms, the state could use the grounds for the DGP’s removal to defend its decision.

Speaking to ThePrint, senior Supreme Court lawyer Kumar Mihir pointed out the loopholes in the implementation of the judgment.

“The Prakash Singh judgment was directory and not mandatory. It was like a wish list of what the states should do for police reforms rather than concrete steps. None of the directions of the judgment on police reforms have been implemented by the states. The judgment made it clear that there cannot be a transitory officer for a post as important as DGP. This appointment of acting DGP is unusual, but UP has removed the officer on the basis of some grounds, so it can use these grounds,” he said.

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Cut-off date deciding factor in DGP selection

The selection of DGPs has become a subject of controversy in several states like West Bengal, Punjab, and Maharashtra. According to sources, the deciding factor will be the ‘cut-off date’. To be eligible for the post of DGP, an officer is not only required to have at least 30 years of service behind him/her, but at least six months of service remaining as of the cut-off date.

In Punjab, for instance, the officer considered the top choice of former Punjab state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu was eliminated after the UPSC decided to set the cut-off date at 5 October, 2021 — former DGP Dinkar Gupta’s last day in office. The officer under consideration was scheduled to retire in March.

In the case of UP, if the UPSC considers the cut-off date to be 12 May — when ex-DGP Goel was shunted out — the senior-most officers, including Goel, DG (police training) R.P. Singh, DG (CB-CID) Gopal Meena, DG (UP Police Recruitment & Promotion Board) R.K. Vishwakarma, acting DGP D.S. Chauhan, Anil Agrawal (on central deputation), DG (prisons administration) Anand Kumar will be among the frontrunners for the post.

“It depends on what the UPSC decides. If it decides to go by the Punjab example, it should take 12 May as the cut-off date. This will make most of these officers eligible for selection in the final panel to be recommended to the state government by the UPSC. However, if it decides to take the date according to when the recommendation was sent, DG Gopal Meena will be out of the race,” an official source told ThePrint.

“But then, it has to be considered that Punjab had the opposition Congress in power, while UP has a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in place. The UPSC decision will clear the air soon,” the source added.

While Meena is retiring in January 2023, R.P. Singh is set to retire in February next year and DGP D.S. Chauhan in March 2023.

Former UP DGP Vikram Singh told ThePrint that the UPSC takes into account several aspects, like professional seniority, track record, confidential ‘character rolls’ (of the officers’ work), annual confidential reports (ACRs) and morality.

“The UPSC usually takes a decision within 21 days of receiving a proposal from the state seeking an appointment of the DGP,” he said.

(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)

Also read: Bengal govt moves SC on DGP appointment, says UPSC has no jurisdiction or expertise in it