New Delhi, Feb 9 (PTI) The Supreme Court Wednesday said it would consider listing for urgent hearing the pending contempt petition against the Jharkhand government and Director General of Police (DGP) Neeraj Sinha alleging he has been occupying the post even after superannuation on January 31.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana was told that the contempt plea, which was ordered to be listed in September last year, has not come up for hearing so far and, in the meanwhile, Sinha is continuing as Jharkhand DGP after his retirement.
The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli, said the courts have been hearing “restricted matters” due to Covid and would consider the plea for early hearing.
“This matter was last listed on September 3 last year and it was ordered to be listed after two weeks then. It never got listed. It concerns the top post of the Director General of Police (DGP) of Jharkhand,” lawyer Apoorv Khator said.
“This is not the priority item. We know that we are hearing the restricted matters. We will see,” the bench said.
When the lawyer urged for the grant of a date for hearing, the bench said, “Let us see. This is another luxurious litigation.” On being told that a retired police officer is continuing, it said that at most, the DGP will take service benefit for the period.
Earlier, the plea seeking urgent hearing of a pending contempt petition against the state government and the DGP was filed alleging Sinha has been holding post of the top cop even after his superannuation on January 31.
The apex court, on July 14, 2021, had issued notices on the contempt plea against the state government, its top officials, and the UPSC for alleged violation of its verdict.
It later also made Sinha a party to the contempt plea.
Alleging continuing violation of the apex court’s verdict, contempt petitioner Rajesh Kumar has sought an urgent hearing of the case saying it has not been listed since September 3, last year.
“The Respondents (state government, DGP, and others) are in continuous violation of the orders passed by this court. It has come to the knowledge of the petitioner that the tenure of respondent 3 (DGP) who has been appointed by the state government to the post of DG and IGP (Inspector-General of Police), Jharkhand has expired on January 31.
“The respondent 3 has crossed the age of retirement but still continues to be on the current post which is also in the teeth of the orders passed by this court,” said the interim application which sought urgent hearing of the pending contempt plea.
The alleged contemnors are in continuous contempt of the orders passed by this court and this is continuing, the plea, filed by lawyer Vikas Mehta said.
The apex court on September 3, 2021, had pulled up the state government and the Union Public Service Commission for their roles in the appointment of an interim DGP in alleged violation of the top court’s judgement that had fixed two-year tenure for a state police chief who has to be selected from a list of senior police officers to be prepared by the UPSC.
It was irked over the fact that the state government had appointed IPS officer Neeraj Sinha as an ad-hoc Director General of Police (DGP) and the UPSC has been refusing to prepare a list of senior police officers for the selection of the DGP.
Prior to this, on July 14 last year, the top court had issued the show-cause notices to the Chief Secretary of Jharkhand and the Chairman of UPSC, on the plea seeking contempt action against them for the alleged violation of the 2006 judgement of the top court rendered in the Prakash Singh case.
It has been alleged that Chief Minister Hemant Soren-led Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Congress coalition government flouted the verdict, which, besides issuing many directions on police reforms, had fixed two years’ assured tenure for DGPs.
The UPSC has been alleged to have committed contempt of the apex court by failing to form a panel for the selection of the new DGP for Jharkhand.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Rajesh Kumar, a Jharkhand native, had sought the contempt action against the Chief Secretary and the UPSC chairperson saying that the state was in complete violation of the apex court’s judgement by appointing Sinha as ad-hoc DGP.
The plea has sought initiation of contempt proceedings against Jharkhand and the UPSC “for willfully and deliberately disobeying the judgments/orders”, passed on different dates “by appointing another interim/acting Director General of Police (Head of Police Force), Jharkhand viz. Mr. Neeraj Sinha vide notification dated 11.02.2021.” Before this, the state had appointed M V Rao on an ad-hoc basis as the acting Director-General of Police through notification of March 16, 2020, it said.
“The Petitioner is also seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against the UPSC for willfully and deliberately disobeying the directions given by this court in the judgments/orders as UPSC has not prepared the panel for appointment of DGP (Hopf, Jharkhand),” it said.
The 2006 apex court verdict in the Prakash Singh case had said that the DGP of a state shall be “selected by the state government from amongst the three senior-most officers of the Department who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the UPSC on the basis of their length of service, very good record and range of experience for heading the police force.” And, once he has been selected for the job, he should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation, it had said.
The DGP may, however, be relieved of his responsibilities by the state government acting in consultation with the State Security Commission consequent upon any action taken against him under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules or following his conviction in a court of law in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption, or if he is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his duties, it had said. PTI SJK SA
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Source: The Print