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9 months after its top cop was shunted out, why UP Police is still without a permanent DGP

Acting DGP D.S. Chauhan is set to retire on 31 March. With no movement in the process to appoint a new DGP, Opposition has raked up the issue time and again.

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Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Police force hasn’t had a permanent director general for months. The over 3 lakh strong force — the largest in the world — has been headed by an acting director general of police (DGP) for over nine months now.

With no movement in the process of a permanent DGP’s appointment, the Opposition too has raked up the issue time and again. Leader of the Opposition in the UP assembly Akhilesh Yadav asked the government recently how it could control crime in the state when it had failed to appoint a permanent DGP.

There has been a lot of back and forth between the state government and the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) over the DGP’s appointment ever since the former unceremoniously removed the 1987-batch IPS officer Mukul Goel from the post in May last year, citing alleged “disregard of government duty,” “lack of interest in departmental work” and indolence. With the acting DGP D.S. Chauhan set to retire 31 March, according to the Supreme Court guidelines on the issue, the government should appoint a permanent DGP by then.

In case it fails to do so, it could appoint another acting DGP or hand over the charge to a senior officer till the time the appointment is made. However, recent news reports have speculated that the acting DGP could likely be given an extension.

UP Police can get a permanent DGP after the state government sends the names of the eligible IPS officers for the post to the UPSC, which then selects a panel of three of those for the state.

As per Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines, an officer needs to have completed 30 years of service to be considered for the post of DGP.

In September last year, the government sent a list of around 38 IPS officers to the UPSC for consideration. However, the UPSC sent a query back to the government, asking why Goel was removed in the first place and seeking a list of all officers who were eligible for the post as in May 2022 — when the DGP was removed.

Speaking to ThePrint, a senior officer privy to the developments said when the government recommended the names, it sent the list of all those IPS officers who had completed 30 years in service and had six months of service left as on 1 September 2022.

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‘List excluded officers retiring in Jan, Feb 2023’

This, however, excluded some of the senior IPS officers, such as Gopal Meena and Rajendra Pal Singh, who retired in January and February 2023 respectively, government sources told ThePrint.

“The UPSC asked the government to send the names of all the officers who had completed 30 years in service as of May 2022, saying that the cut-off month (for consideration for the post) will be May 2022 when Goel was removed from the top job,” the officer added.

While news reports said that the government sent a reply to the UPSC about reasons for the removal of Goel, it is yet to send the names of police officers eligible for the post to the UPSC for the second time.

Speaking to ThePrint, a senior official said that further correspondence on the issue is yet to be done.

Chauhan to retire on 31 March

While UP Police circles are abuzz with speculation on acting DGP Chauhan getting a service extension, some former DGPs ThePrint spoke to said that while extensions can be given to IPS officers, an extension to an acting DGP is “unheard of”.

Speaking to ThePrint, former UP DGP Sulkhan Singh reiterated that an extension to a permanent or an acting DGP is done by the central government and there have been several such instances.

“An extension does not have anything to do with a post. An extension can be given to an IPS officer and the same has been done several times in the past. The state government sends a recommendation after which the central government issues the final order. The central government can, in fact, give an extension on its own, without any recommendation from state government too,” he told ThePrint.

Prakash Singh, former DGP of UP and Assam and ex-DG BSF, on whose petition the Supreme Court issued detailed guidelines for the appointment of a DGP, told ThePrint that extension to a DGP, whether permanent or acting, needs the central government’s nod. He, however, said the concept of an acting or officiating DGP has been disallowed by the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh judgment, and an extension to an acting DGP is unheard of.

“I have not heard of any extension being given to an acting DGP although several permanent DGPs have been given extensions. Extension to a DGP is subject to approval by the central government. These reports about an extension to the current acting DGP of UP are mostly speculative and, strictly speaking, the government should be sending a fresh panel of officers to the UPSC for consideration for elevation to the DGP post,” he said.

Singh added that the controversy over the appointment of the DGP last year was because the government wanted regularisation of the acting DGP and the UPSC raised certain issues and sought clarifications from the state on the issue.

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Options for govt

Amid speculation about an extension to the acting DGP, some sources said the same was not impossible and if the central government wants, an extension can be granted to the IPS officer.

“That depends on the central government. In case the central government agrees to any such proposal from the state, an extension can be given. However, it is unclear if a proposal to this effect has been sent to the central government by UP,” a senior state government officer said.

Another former DGP said if the UP government goes by the rules, it has to send a fresh list of all the IPS officers, who have completed 30 years in service and have six months’ tenure left, to the UPSC well in time before the retirement of the current acting DGP Chauhan on 31 March.

“The UPSC will then select three persons from the list and send it to the government and the state will have to select from that panel,” he said.

If the government does send the list of eligible officers for the post to the UPSC in March, former DGP Goel, DG (jails) Anand Kumar and IPS Vijay Kumar would be the front runners for the post according to their seniority, an analysis of the IPS gradation list shows.

However, government sources said to ThePrint that Goel’s chances are really thin, given how he was removed from his post last year. They said in case there is no decision by 31 March, the government will have to hand over the charge to a senior officer or appoint another acting DGP. Terming the situation as unfortunate, Prakash Singh said the government should try to expedite the process so that the appointment is made well ahead of Chauhan’s retirement.

(Edited by Smriti Sinha)

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