The decision of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) to quash the appointment of Dinkar Gupta as the state police chief, must have come as a big setback for Congress government. However, the adamancy of Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh and his statement to retain Gupta as DGP of Punjab even after CAT decision is surprising.
CAT has given a chance to Punjab government to undo its wrong, it was done by appointing a 1987-batch Indian Police Services (IPS) officer Gupta by superseding five senior officers including Mohammad Mustafa, Siddharth Chattopadhyaya, Hardeep Dhillon, Jasminder Singh and Samant Goel. Seniors were ignored without any merit or any allegations against them. But since Punjab CM wants to have DGP of his choice, the state had to choose Gupta. Punjab CM may have his own claims to prove that Gupta was having outstanding service record and it led to his selection, but the adamancy of CM even after the decision of CAT against Gupta, is bound to cause heartburn among state police officers and subsequent indiscipline is also likely.
Legal experts say Gupta has to go immediately as he cannot continue as the head of Punjab police, but he can continue as DGP. The perusal of order shows that CAT has given no time to DGP and state. In its order, the bench stated that the procedure adopted by the empanelment committee and UPSC for preparing the panel violated the Supreme Court judgment in Prakash Singh’s case. The SC judgment says selection shall be made on the basis of (a) length of service, (b) very good record and (c) range of experience for heading the police force.
Discipline is the foundation of effective policing and being the border state, Punjab needs to have a disciplined force headed an effective DGP with the support of the Punjab government. But the unfolding events about the appointment of DGP will definitely affect the working of police in coming days in both outcomes. First, if CM succeeds to retain Gupta as DGP by taking the help of the High Court of Apex Court, it would dishearten the other eligible officer. But if CM chose to replace Gupta with his another trusted IPS officer by again superseding the deserving officers, it will further complicate the things in the state police department.
Punjab CM should prefer to improve policing by appointing a deserving and effective DGP as Punjab has already been facing serious threats from terrorists and smugglers, rather than putting his choice above than state interest to have pliable DGP.