Court orders removal of Maharashtra DGP, new chief in a month (Lead)

February 5th, 2009 - 7:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Feb 5 (IANS) In a major embarrassment for the Maharashtra government, the Bombay High Court Thursday annulled the appointment of Maharashtra Director General of Police (DGP) A.N. Roy as state police chief and said the decision by then deputy chief minister R.R. Patil reflected “non-application of mind”.Directing that a new police chief be appointed within four weeks, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice A.S. Bobde criticised the government over Roy’s appointment and said there should be “objectivity and transparency’ to the appointments in such important posts.

The high court order came almost four months after the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) had nullified Roy’s appointment following a complaint that he had superseded three other officers for the post.

Roy’s appointment (on Feb 29, 2008) was challenged in September 2008 by his colleague Suprakash Chakravarthy, the DGP home guards and civil defence. The CAT ruling had directed the state government to appoint a new DGP within a month’s time.

The order was challenged by the state government in the Bombay High Court, which has upheld the CAT order.

“This appointment needs to be made on merit and upon due and fair consideration of the eligible persons in accordance with law. The power (to appoint the DGP) ought not to be exercised arbitrarily or in a colourable manner,” the judges observed.

The court went on to say that the state government had “failed to act in accordance with law, and the entire decision making process and decision has been taken with undue haste and not in conformity with the accepted administrative norms”.

The judges also said that the decision of Patil, who was in-charge of the home portfolio, reflected “non-application of mind” and the process adopted as well as the final decision arrived at were “not in conformity with law”.

The administration had taken “note of irrelevant considerations” while ignoring the relevant parameters for appointment to the post of DGP, the judgment stated.

“In fact, the process adopted by the state in the selection is opposed to the basic doctrine of equality and there has been no appropriate and effective consideration of the eligible officers by the competent authority. No comparative merit is discussed; no plausible reason has been stated for preferring the selected candidate over the candidates ignored.”

The division bench pointed out that “higher the post, greater is the responsibility” on the state administration “to make appointments with greater caution, fairness and transparency”.

“Adopting a convenient and casual procedure for making appointment to such a high post or acting entirely on the premise of absolute discretion, unfounded on appropriate reason and unconnected with any rationality would obviously render the action of the state as arbitrary,” the judges said.

There were three other DGP ranked officers in the running for the top post — Suprakash Chakravarthy (commandant general home guards and civil defence), Sarbdeep Singh Virk and J.D. Virkar (DGP of the Anti-Corruption Bureau).

“Virk has served the country to his own personal peril. Chakravarthy also has an impeccable record and has successfully served three years as DGP - police housing and DGP home guards and civil defence,” Chakravarthy’s counsel R.R. Shetty told IANS.

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