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SC reprimands Nagaland Govt over extension given to DGP, asks it to send fresh names to UPSC

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New Delhi, Oct 17: The Supreme Court on Monday reprimanded the Nagaland Government for extending the tenure of the Director General of Police (DGP) after his superannuation and asked the State to put its house in order by recommending a fresh panel of names of eligible IPS officers from the State cadre to the UPSC for the appointment of a new police chief.

The top court also took a grim view of the fact that the incumbent 1991 batch IPS officer T J Longkumer was part of the meeting of the state Police Establishment Board headed by the chief secretary which had recommended his extension for a period of six months.

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A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli told the counsel appearing for the State, “This person (Longkumer) has retired. Let him retire in peace. If you want to put your house in order, we will give you one opportunity otherwise you are inviting trouble from the court. Tell your chief secretary that we have taken a very grim view of the fact that this person (DGP) was part of the meeting of the SPEB in which a proposal for extension of tenure was passed”.

The bench in its order said, “We are of the considered view that Nagaland must immediately send a list of empanelled officers for the post of the DGP drawn as per law, to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), keeping in mind the deficiencies pointed by the UPSC by October 31, 2022.

The UPSC will take a decision on the names suggested in the panel by November 30.

At the outset, advocates Kaveetha Wadia and Astha Sharma, appearing for ‘Nagaland Law Students Federation and others’ sought an order from the court to direct Nagaland to recall its order dated August 31, 2022 granting six-month extension to  Longkumer after his superannuation.

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“This gentleman continues to be in office and is granted extension after extension. This evokes nothing but anger. It is nothing but a subversion of the top court’s judgment and order dated July 3, 2018 where the top court has said that there should not be any acting DGP and the DGP shall have a fixed tenure of 2 years,” Wadia said.

She added the post of DGP cannot remain vacant, but his staying in office is subversion of rule of law.

The lawyer said the earlier DGP of the state was removed even before his tenure got over and the incumbent Longkumer, a Chhattisgarh cadre officer, was appointed on the ground that the state does not have IPS officers having 30 years of experience.

“At the time of appointment in June, 2018 Longkumer also did not have 30 years of experience. It shocks my conscience that the norms laid down by this court are violated blatantly,” she submitted.

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The bench asked the counsel, appearing for the State, whether at the time of his appointment Longkumer had 30 years of experience as contemplated by the State as one of the eligibility criteria.

He said, “Nagaland is a small State and has very few IPS officers. At the time of appointment he was the senior most and the officer next to him (in seniority) is Sunil Acharya, who has been deputed to Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was not being relieved. Since 2013 in Nagaland, we have had DGPs from outside the State.”

“Did Nagaland, at any point of time, inform the court that Longkumer did not have 30 years of experience. Isn’t it a breach of faith reposed in you. What is the need for giving a six months extension?” the court asked.

The counsel said a wrong impression is being created but the State does not favour any particular person for the top position in the police establishment. It is faced with a very peculiar situation as there are no senior officers available who could succeed Longkumer, he said.

The bench then noted in its order that on March 23, 2022 the Nagaland Government had recommended a panel of five names, including that of Longkumer, and forwarded their career records to the UPSC for appointment to the post of the DGP which was to fall vacant on August 31, 2022 due to the superannuation of Longkumer.

The UPSC replied to the proposal with its letter dated April 1, 2022, in which it pointed out certain deficiencies, especially that since the vacancy would be arising due to the superannuation of Longkumer, who is from the Chhattisgarh cadre, his name is required to be deleted and only those of the Nagaland cadre be included.

The bench noted the Union Ministry of Home Affairs also considered and allowed the proposal of the state government dated August 31, 2022 seeking a six-month extension of service for Longkumer which was granted. The court also noted the MHA was not given the details of the letter sent by the UPSC dated April 1, 2022.

Longkumer was appointed as the DGP on June 27, 2018. He was given one-year extension last year till August 31, 2022. This year he was again given and extension of six months.

In July, 2018, the top court had passed a slew of directions on police reforms in the country and restrained all States and UTs from appointing any police officer as acting DGPs to avoid favouritism and nepotism in such high-level appointments. (PTI)

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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