Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapadi Palaniswamy, who holds the home portfolio, could have avoided appointing TK Rajendran as the Director-General of Police (Law and Order), minutes before he was due to retire on 30 June, thereby giving him an extension of service for two years and blocking the promotions of competent officers with better service records.
He has been holding additional charge as DGP (law and order) since September last and was due to retire. He had helped Palanaswami win a vote of confidence in the State Assembly by "protecting" 122 AIADMK MLAs of the Sasikala faction held at a beach resort near Chennai and bringing them to the House for the crucial vote. The extension given to Rajendran was not in consonance with Rule 16(1) of the AllIndia Service (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) of 1958 and its subsequent amendment.
More importantly, his name figured in the sensational gutka scandal. Gutka is a banned item but is available freely in most paan shops in the state. A search conducted by the Income Tax department on the company making gutka revealed payment of huge bribes to a minister in the Palanaswamy government and top police and other officials.
The Income Tax department has sent a report to the Chief Secretary requesting appropriate action. The Chief Minister has informed the Assembly that he has entrusted the matter to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau for inquiry. That the Chief Minister should choose a person who is under the lens of the Vigilance and AntiCorruption Bureau overlooking the claims of eligible untainted officials empanelled for the post and announce the decision minutes before the midnight hour tells its own story.
The panel of DGPs approved by the Union Public Service Commission included Archana Ramasundaram of 1980 batch, KP Mahendran of 1984 batch, besides Rajendran. He now gets the benefit of the Supreme Court order in the Prakash Singh case of a two-year tenure. Fish rots at the head.
A deputy superintendent of police and a sub-inspector attached to the CB-CID Idol Wing were caught selling antique panchaloha idols of Hindu deities stolen from ancient temples in Tamil Nadu to smugglers. The idols, valued at Rs 20 crore, found their way to an art gallery in New York. The sub-inspector has been arrested while the DSP has slipped out of the police net. TP Senkumar, who retired as DGP, Kerala, on 30 June, said in his farewell address that the percentage of lawbreakers in uniform was higher in the top echelons of the force than in the constabulary. The main threat to the police is from within its own ranks.
The police has its share of officers who could not rise above partisan politics in their line of duty. There is nothing wrong for police officers to have political views.
But it should not reflect in the discharge of their constitutional duties. To uphold the law, one must be politically neutral. Implementation of the Tamil Nadu Police (Reform) Act, 2013, can bring about a welcome change in the functioning of the police in the state.