The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday set the December 19 deadline for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to recommend a panel of names for the appointment of Nagaland’s director general of police (DGP) after it took exception to the commission trying to evade the court’s earlier direction in October to finalize the names by November 30.
A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and justice PS Narasimha said, “The UPSC is required to comply with our order of October 17. The exercise of UPSC (to recommend panel of names) be completed before December 19. All necessary formalities to be sorted out between the ministry of home affairs (MHA), the UPSC and the Nagaland government.”
Further, the bench said, “Should the order of the SC not be complied with, this court will be forced to resort to the coercive arm of law.”
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The October 17 order by the top court directed the Nagaland government to recommend names to UPSC by October end and gave a month’s time to UPSC to convene the empanelment committee meeting and recommend a panel of three names for appointment as DGP.
The UPSC filed an application early this month requesting an additional 60 days period to carry out its exercise. “The consultation with the MHA on the matter is still under process. This would not result in any administrative dislocation because the incumbent DGP’s extended tenure will be over only on February 28, 2023,” said the commission.
Rejecting the UPSC’s demand, the bench said, “You are trying to evade compliance with the SC order. UPSC has no justification to point out that there will be no administrative dislocation since the extended tenure of incumbent DGP is till February 28.”
The Apex court was considering the matter related to Nagaland DGP in a 1996 petition filed by retired IPS officer Prakash Singh on whose petition, the top court in 2006 directed a slew of police reforms and required UPSC to recommend a panel of three names for appointment as DGP out of officers who will get a clear tenure of two years.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan who represented Singh told the SC, “The states are making mincemeat of this court’s judgment and UPSC is following the charade. The whole idea is to allow the incumbent DGP to continue in office.”
Advocate Kavita Wadia who appeared as an intervenor told the SC that the state was selectively trying to delay the appointment of a new DGP as it sent only two names to UPSC on November 7.
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The present Nagaland DGP T Longkumer was granted an extension following his superannuation in June 2021 till August 2022 and was recently granted another six-month extension to remain in office till February 2023.
In February this year, the DGP attended the police establishment board meeting held by the state where he was party to the decision recommending his own apex pay scale. The SC frowned upon this fact in its October order.
Senior advocate KN Balagopal appearing for Nagaland told the Sc that the delay in complying with the court order was due to late communication received from the Centre as Acharya was on central deputation. He told the court that the state must have discretion in sending three names and the state will try and bring officers from outside the state.