Tuesday, May 13, 2014

SC says changes in IPS rules breach of court order

The Supreme Court has stayed the Indian Police Service (Cadre) Amendment Rules, 2014, finding it prima facie breaching the court’s judgement on police reforms whereby executive control on service matters of senior police officers was sought to be done away with for their independent functioning.

A bench led by Justice B S Chauhan restrained the Centre and all states from taking any step relating to police officers’ service issues, especially on their transfers, postings and any disciplinary action, in pursuant to formation of the Civil Services Board (CSB).

Under the Rules notified on January 28, CSB was constituted to recommend all appointments of cadre officers, besides decide their postings and transfers before completion of minimum period of service specified under relevant IPS (Cadre) rules.

Hearing a contempt petition against the government’s move to include IPS officers under CSB, the bench, also comprising Justices J Chelameswar and M Y Eqbal noted the new rules were not in conformity with SC verdict.

In 2006, allowing a petition by former DGP Singh Prakash Singh, the SC directed the Centre and states to set up authorities like State Security Commission and Police Establishment Boards, to decide selection, promotions and transfers of police officers and other staff, till the governments came up with an appropriate legislation.

Singh’s petition pointed out that the CSB has been entrusted with the task that had already been assigned to a different body by the SC eight years ago. It cited the composition of the CSB, which comprises the Chief Secretary, senior-most Additional Chief Secretary or Chairman in the Board of Revenue, Principal Secretary or Secretary in the Department of Personnel, Principal Secretary or Secretary (Home) and Director General of Police.

Singh said since four out of five CSB members were IAS officers, they would call the shots and decide the fate of IPS officers. The petition said the government’s attempt was to subvert autonomy given to police departments in 2006.

The petition stated that CSB was set up in compliance with another SC verdict in November last, ruling that civil servants should be assured of a minimum tenure in a posting and CSB should be formed to make recommendations to governments on service issues. But this judgement clearly kept IPS officers out of its purview and was confined to other civil servants, said the petition.

Last week, the bench told Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran that the contentious rule did not appear to be in consonance with the judgement in Prakash Singh’s case and that the Centre required to think over this. Parasaran conceded that the Centre was considering the question of amending the contentious rules.

“In such circumstances, pending consideration by the Government of India about the amendment of the Rule, we direct the Government of India as well as all state governments not to take any proceedings in pursuance of the rules referred to above. This order be communicated to Chief Secretaries of all states and the Cabinet Secretary,” said the bench, posting the matter for the second week of July.

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