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With the Tamil Nadu Director-General of Police (DGP) C Sylendra Babu set to retire on June 30, 2023, the race has already begun for the top post in the police force in the state ahead of the 2024 general elections. Reportedly 12 IPS officers have qualified for the empanelment by the UPSC. As per procedures, the Tamil Nadu government will tick the topmost candidate out of five shortlisted by the UPSC selection committee.
Against this background, Selvaraj, a crime reporter with a long service and privy to police sources, in an interview to inmathi.com, shed light on the politics, procedures and past chronicles of controversies regarding the DGP posting.
Usually for the DGP post a state government will choose an eligible IPS officer who will toe its line, Selvaraj said. After all, it is a ‘political’ post, he added. To be in the fray for the post, an IPS officer must have over 30 years’ clean service without taints of corruption and controversies. DGP Sylendra Babu had such a record.
As of now, on the list of the probables for the TN police chief post to replace DGP Sylendra Babu are Sanjay Arora, Delhi Police Commissioner (1988 batch), Shankar Jiwal, Chennai Police Commissioner (1990 batch), Brij Kishore Ravi (1989 batch), A K. Viswanathan (1990 batch), managing director, TN Police Housing Corporation, his wife Seema Agarwal (1990), Chairperson, Tamil Nadu Uniformed Service Recruitment Board, Abash Kumar (1990 batch), Director, Fire and Rescue Services, Ravichandran (1990) batch of IBC and his wife Priya, Joint Director, Fire and Rescue Services, Amaresh Poojari (1991 batch), DGP, Prisons and a few others.
Selvaraj said that compared to others, Sanjay Arora has a brighter chance to be TN DGP as he still has two more years left for retirement. In the list, he is the only 1988-batch IPS officer left as his colleagues had all retired. He had joined the service at a very young age.
Sanjay Arora has a brighter chance to be TN DGP as he still has two more years left for retirement. In the list, he is the only 1988-batch IPS officer left as his colleagues had all retired. He had joined the service at a very young age
Yet Shankar Jiwal being Chennai Police Commissioner and on good terms with the Tamil Nadu government has also a good prospect in the race.
Talking about how an IPS officer’s service period is calculated, Selvaraj said the period covers the officer’s initial years starting with selection through tests and interviews and the subsequent years. Roughly, three years are spent like this before the officer joins regular service after posting.
To be the head of a state’s police is not an easy task as it involves a great deal of work juggling several things at the same time, striking a balance between the official and the political.
Sometimes it happens that a seniormost IPS officer fully qualified to be the DGP is bypassed and a candidate in the next rank is elevated.
In 2011 R. Nataraj challenged in the court the appointment of Letika Saran as DGP, alleging that the UPSC empanelment committee had ranked him as the topper on the selection list and yet he had been ignored by the Tamil Nadu government for the top post of DGP. Then it was said that it was the prerogative of the state to appoint its own DGP.
From this it is clear that there’s a great political element in the posting of DGP, Selvaraj said.
How can the UPSC committee far away in Delhi shortlist five DGP wannabes, after scrutinizing the long list of candidates of DGP and even ADGP rank sent by the state government?
Selvaraj said there are certain procedures. First there is the ACR – annual confidential report with rankings. The IPS officers’ batch numbers, clean track record of service, acquittal in corruption or other cases, if any, their seniority etc. will be elaborately set forth in the ACR which also contains the rankings of the candidates. Normally the rank will be above 8.5 because the cut-off is required for empanelment. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, this ranking would not cross at best 8.2. For only outstanding rank above 8.5 is a must for an IPS officer to be considered for heading top investigative agencies, say, like CBI, IB etc. This was why several IPS officers from TN in the old days could not make it to the central police organizations.
Shankar Jiwal being Chennai Police Commissioner and on good terms with the Tamil Nadu government has also a good prospect in the race
To be a top-ranking police officer is a tough task as they are often subjected to mid-service transfers and political interference. Supposing that there is a ruling party MLA involved in some big law and order problems, the top-ranking police officers, say, like SPs, DIGs or IGs, cannot act swiftly for fear of treading on the toes of the ruling party. Normally in such cases, only as the last resort, the DGP may take the issue up with the CM. But the outcome of such moves is quite unpredictable, Selvaraj adds. The policemen are, therefore, unable to focus on their work, often reshuffled and transferred.
Tormented by such political issues, Prakash Singh, who had served as DGP of Uttar Pradesh, after retirement filed a PIL in the Supreme Court in 1996. The apex court in 2006 issued directives pertaining to police reforms. Among the directives the most important were fixing of the tenure (two years for DGPs, IGS etc.) and no transfer mid-term by politicians. DGP Sylendra Babu took office a couple of months after the DMK formed government.
Asked what will be the state DGP’s relation with the union government, Selvaraj said that the DGP should be loyal and close to the state government only. But there are instances in which the state IPS officers were summoned to the union government service and the state governments refused to oblige. For instance, after the PM’s convoy was blocked on a bridge in Kolkata, suspecting some sabotage bid in the episode, the union government tried to summon the DGP of West Bengal but the state government refused to send the DGP.
Asked about the policemen getting caught in the sexual molestation cases, Selvaraj said the recent conviction of Rajesh Das, special DGP, in Tamil Nadu has conveyed the message. The only way for police to maintain a clean record of service is to avoid committing such crimes. The crimes not only tar the image of the police department but also will reflect badly on the government. In dealing with such criminal cases, Tamil Nadu has set a good example worthy of emulation by other states, Selvaraj said.
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