The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the pleas of six states seeking modification of its order issued last year on the selection and appointment of directors general of police or DGPs. The states wished to carry out DGP appointments through their own selection process instead of approaching the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

The apex court was hearing applications of governments of Punjab, Kerala, West Bengal, Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Bihar, seeking implementation of their local laws regarding the selection and appointment of DGPs.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the earlier directions of the court on selection and appointment of DGPs were issued in larger public interest and to protect the police officials from political interference.

Earlier, the apex court extended till 31 January the tenures of the present DGPs of Punjab and Haryana and agreed to hear the states’ pleas seeking to implement their local laws regarding the selection and appointment of the police chief.

The bench also comprised Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjay Kishan Kaul.
The states contended that policing was the State subject and that they alone should have the power to appoint the head of the police force.

DGPs Suresh Arora (Punjab) and BS Sandhu (Haryana) were due to retire on 31 December last year and will now remain in office till 31 January according to the earlier order of the top court.

Several states were seeking modification of the apex court’s earlier order directing all the states to mandatorily take the assistance of the UPSC in short-listing the names for appointing DGPs.

On 3 July last year, the apex court passed a slew of directions on police reforms in the country and chronicled the steps for appointment of regular DGPs. It said the states will have to send a list of senior police officers to the UPSC at least three months prior to the retirement of the incumbent.
The commission will then prepare a panel and intimate the states, which in turn will immediately appoint one of the persons from that list.

Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Kerala and West Bengal told the court that they have already framed a comprehensive law, dealing with the procedures to appoint the DGP, in pursuance of the 2006 SC verdict on police reforms.

The directions were given by apex court in 2006 while deciding the PIL filed by former DGPs Prakash Singh and NK Singh.

The top court also issued several directions, including the setting up of a state security commission to ensure the government does not exercise unwarranted influence on the police.

It said the appointment of DGPs and police officers should be merit-based and transparent and officers like DGPs and superintendents of police (SPs) should have a minimum fixed tenure of two years.

However, when states enacted laws providing a mechanism for DGP selection, the top court on 3 July last year kept the state laws in abeyance.

The directions had come on an application filed by the Centre in which it claimed that certain states have been appointing acting DGPs and then making them permanent just before the date of their superannuation to enable them to get the benefit of an additional two-year tenure till the age of 62 years.