UPSC ignored Maha DGP’s job name despite outstanding record, IPS Sanjay Pandey tells HC

Senior IPS officer and Acting Director General of Maharashtra Police, Sanjay Pandey, told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that the UPSC Selection Committee ignored his outstanding Annual Confidential Record (ACR) and had excluded his name from the nomination for the post of DGP of Maharashtra.

Senior Counsel Navroz Seervai, who appeared on behalf of Pandey, urged a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik to make the IPS officer a party to public interest litigation asking instructions to the government of Maharashtra to fill the vacant state post. DGP in accordance with the 2006 Supreme Court ruling on police reforms in the Prakash Singh case.

The PIL, filed by lawyer Datta Mane through his lawyer Abhinav Chandrachud, argued that according to the SC judgment, the post of senior state police officer cannot be an acting position. and that an officer with the minimum seniority requirements as per the 2006 decision should be appointed by the Maharashtra government at the earliest.

Maharashtra Solicitor General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni had told HC on Monday that Pandey, currently India’s most senior police officer in the state, was appointed as acting DGP last year after DGP Subodh Jaiswal had left the position mid-term after his transfer to the CBI. .

Kumbhakoni also told HC that on November 8 last year, then Chief Secretary of State Sitaram Kunte wrote to UPSC asking its selection committee to reconsider the name of Pandey for nomination to the position of DGP.

The HC, however, had said that Kunte was one of three members of the UPSC selection committee which proposed the names of three officers, Hemant Nagrale, K Venkatesham and Rajnish Seth on November 1 last year, and that Kunte had written to the UPSC a week later, to consider Pandey’s name, after the fact.

The HC had also said that such conduct was not appropriate and not based on any legal principle.

On Tuesday, Seervai appeared before the bench as an intervener in the case and asked that Pandey become a party to the PIL because he had “a lot to say”. “I (Pandey) gave 30 years of my life to the police department. I am a man of the utmost integrity. Every (Pandey’s) ACR since November (2021) had an eighth grade and above, which is exceptional However, this was ignored by two of the three members of the selection committee (the third being Kunte),” Seervai told the court.

Seervai further stated that Pandey was “most affected” in this case and yet he was not named as a party to the case.

“However an order is made, the most affected party will be Sanjay Pandey. He has a lot to say to the court. No order should be made by this court without making him a party. He is a a man of the utmost integrity. He will be negatively affected. The UPSC did not properly review his records,” Seervai said.

The HC, however, said integrity and seniority were good qualities for an IPS officer, but did not ‘entitle’ him to the post of DGP.

The HC bench further agreed with Union Government counsel, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, that there was no statutory provision under which the state government could have requested UPSC to reconsider its decision after the selection committee approved the names.

Furthermore, the three names were selected from a list of 21 officers of the Maharashtra government’s own proposal, Singh told the court.

The HC also said it was not (then CS) Kunte’s responsibility for not raising a grievance or not pointing out the error, if any, made by the committee before signing the three names.

Kumbhakoni, however, told HC Kunte that Pandey’s name was omitted by mistake, but it was not taken into account.

“The chief secretary said it orally because he did not remember the rules (of constitution). He came back to Mumbai from Delhi after the meeting on November 1, checked the rules of constitution and went realized that his grievance was valid, so he wrote to the UPSC as an officer of the state government,” Kumbhakoni said.

The AG argued that HC should also look at the matter from the perspective of the incumbent officer (Pandey), who, after serving most of his term, should not have been left out due to incorrect interpretation of the rules.

The HC bench, however, said Kumbhakoni’s arguments only ended up showing Kunte in a bad light.

“Mr. AG, the more you argue, the poorer you make the chief secretary (Kunte) look. If he didn’t remember the rules, he should have asked the other members to leave the decision in abeyance, check the rulebook,” said CH.

“Is this what is expected of CS? Why didn’t he raise a grievance right away? And if he did and his grievance was not filed, then why did he sign it,” the HC asked.

Chandrachud argued that the state could not have requested a reconsideration since the spirit of the Prakash Singh judgment was to keep police stations free from political interference.

The HC closed all arguments on the PIL and reserved its order, but allowed the parties, including Seervai, to submit written arguments, if they wished, by Thursday.

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Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2022, 8:05 PM IST

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