IPS officers are invoking imaginary constitutional provisions to buttress their continued deputation to Central Armed Police Forces.
Many IPS officers have severely criticised the P. Chidambaram-led parliamentary panel’s recommendation to end the dominance of the service in the Central Armed Police Forces.
But the report is absolutely right in rejecting the justification for deputation of Indian Police Service (IPS) officers to the top positions in paramilitary forces, now known as the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), since the latter have a large specialised cadre of officers.
IPS officers argue that they view conflict scenarios from a ‘human rights’ angle and that such a recommendation is against constitutional mandate.
Both these arguments, however, are based on fallacious premises.
The parliamentary panel report clearly mentions that deputation must be resorted to only when an experienced pool of officers is not available to man a position. CAPF officers have sufficient experience and maturity to man supervisory and policy-level posts. They perform specialised tasks and their experience – gained through years in the field service – must not be allowed to go waste.
Cadre officers have much better insight when it comes to the psyche of the troops they command and the operational philosophy and ethos, which is more beneficial in policy formulation.
How IPS entered CAPF
IPS officers are invoking imaginary constitutional provisions to buttress their continued deputation while the Constitution nowhere provides for their mandatory induction into the CAPF.
Yes, the All India Services, which includes the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the IPS and the Indian Forest Service (IFS), provides personnel to both state and central posts. But, their deputation should be limited to ex-cadre posts.
These posts are not part of a particular cadre and lack an adequate pool of trained officers.
When the paramilitary forces were raised, they drew officers and other staff from several organisations including the Army Police. Gradually, the deputation from all other organisations except the IPS stopped. Even IPS officers don’t prefer the operational levels where life is difficult.
Why parliamentary panel is right
The continued deputation and permanent reservation of higher supervisory and policy-level posts for the IPS is violative of constitutional principles because it denies the cadre officers the right to be considered in spite of their obvious merit and experience in performing specialised tasks.
Contrast this with IPS officers who are trained at policing – they do not understand the nuances of border management. Not having served at operational levels, they are not familiar with the operational philosophy and ethos of the CAPF. They treat the CAPF as police and draft policies that are unsuitable for these forces.
The parliamentary panel’s report too has highlighted the difference in the roles of the CAPF and the police, and recommended limiting deputation to a maximum of 25 per cent in any rank.
It also recommends that cadre officers should also be considered for the posts of Director General (DG) not just to boost the forces’ morale but also to widen the selection pool.
By criticising the report, IPS officers are undermining the meticulous work done by the parliamentary panel, which is headed by a former home minister who closely supervised the CAPF’s functioning.
The hard reality
IPS officers directly join the CAPF at senior levels of DIG and above. With no knowledge of the tasks required to be performed, they look for a cushy administrative job at the headquarters. Most IPS deputation posts of Deputy Inspector Generals (DIGs) rank lie vacant despite the officers being assured of home state postings.
However, posts above this level reserved for them are invariably filled because these are mainly located in prominent towns.
In the absence of operational insight, the focus of these IPS officers remains limited to the administration and improvement of the headquarters rather than border outposts or company bases. This is evident from the dismal state of accommodation provided to troops.
Human rights’ record
The argument that IPS officers ‘bring the concept of human rights‘ and are therefore more suited to lead the CAPF misses crucial facts.
For instance, Border Security Force (BSF) officers are commanding the headquarters that are at the forefront of anti-Maoist operations.
During the Punjab militancy too, BSF-cadre officers were part of the operations. Operations in militancy and insurgency-hit districts are being commanded by CAPF-cadre officers who are on deputation as SP (Operations).
Given that the CAPF is leading operations in conflict-prone zones, the human rights record of the formations commanded by cadre officers is equally good if not better than that of the IPS officers.
Given the present-day reality, it is high time the government implemented the parliamentary committee recommendations, ending the ‘hegemony’ of the IPS officers over top CAPF posts.
This will afford India the twin advantage of resolving the problem of perpetual shortage of IPS officers across states, and improve law and order-which is in a dismal condition in many states-besides improving the the CAPF’s performance.
The author is a retired additional director general of Border Security Force.
The article has been updated to reflect that IFS stands for Indian Forest Service.
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