The Supreme Court on July 3, 2018 passed a slew of directions on police reforms in the country, stating guidelines for appointment of the Director General of Police (DGP).
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, comprising A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, ordered all the States and Union territories to not appoint any police officer as acting Director General of Police (DGP).
• The court also directed all the states to send names of senior police officers to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for being considered as probable candidates to be appointed as DGPs or Police Commissioners, as the case may be.
• The UPSC, in turn, will prepare a list of three most suitable officers and the states will be free to appoint one of them as DGP.
• The bench also noted that that endeavour should be made by all states to ensure that the person selected and appointed as DGP shall continue to hold the post despite his superannuation. However, does not imply that the UPSC may empanel, for the purpose of selection as the DGP, only those officers who have a clear 2 years of service remaining.
• The apex court also ruled that any rule or state law on the subject of appointment of police officers "will be kept at abeyance".
• However, the bench granted liberty to the states, which have made laws on police appointments, to move before it seeking modification of its order.
The directions came on a plea of the Centre seeking modification of the judgment rendered in the Prakash Singh case on police reforms.
Prakash Singh v. Union of India Case
In 1996, Prakash Singh, a retired police officer, petitioned in the Supreme Court, urging for the issue of directions to the Government to frame a new Police Act on the lines of the model Act drafted by the National Police Commission to ensure that the police is made accountable primarily to law of the land and the people.
On September 22, 2006, the Supreme Court delivered a historic judgment in Prakash Singh v. Union of India case, instructing the Central and State Governments to comply with a set of seven directives laying down practical mechanisms to kick-start police reform.
These seven directives were:
1. Constitution of the State Security Commission at State level
2. Transparent procedure for the appointment of DGP who shall enjoy a minimum tenure of two years
3. Other police officers on operational duties, such as Superintendents of Police, shall also have a minimum tenure of two years.
4. Establishment of a Police Establishment Board, which will decide all transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of police officers
5. Setting up of a National Security Commission at the Union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organisations (CPO)
6. Separation of the investigation; and law and order functions of the police
The Courts directives seek to achieve two main objectives: functional autonomy for the police through security of tenure, streamlined appointment and transfer processes; and the creation of a buffer body between the police and the Government both for organisational performance and individual misconduct.
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