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Gujarat HC orders to appoint a regular police chief

IANS | Gandhinagar |

The Gujarat High Court has ordered the state government to appoint a regular Director General of Police (DGP) within eight weeks on Tuesday, Dec 19

The state doesn’t have a regular DGP since April 2016, when incumbent P.C. Thakur was transferred and replaced by in-charge DGP P.P. Pandey, whose appointment was stayed by the Supreme Court. After in-charge Geetha Johri retired last month, the government appointed an in-charge DGP, Pramod Kumar, who retires in February-March 2018.

The Gujarat High Court order comes in the wake of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by former IPS officer Rahul Sharma challenging the appointment of the then in-charge DGP Pandey. The PIL sought the court’s direction for appointment of a full-time DGP in the state, stating that not appointing a regular DGP “is contrary to the provisions of the existing laws”.

The division bench of Chief Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice V.M. Pancholi, while agreeing with the contentions of the PIL on Monday ordered the state government to “initiate the process and make necessary selection by following the procedure and appoint a DGP on a regular basis, within a period of eight weeks from the date of receipt of this order”.

Earlier in December, the state government had said the appointment of a regular DGP was delayed due to the imposition of the Model Code of Conduct for the state Assembly elections.

The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Gujarat’s office representing the Election Commission of India (ECI), which was made a respondent to the PIL, told the court that the state had submitted three names to it for an appointment of in-charge DGP after Johri retired.

Geetha Johri, IPS, was appointed following a petition filed in the Supreme Court by another former DGP, Julio Ribeiro, which had led the state government to revoke Pandey’s appointment.

The Gujarat government told the court that the process of appointing a DGP was a long one and a new DGP will be appointed once the new government is formed.

Rahul Sharma had argued that the government was not appointing a regular DGP despite having six officers in the rank.