Rashid Paul

HC dismisses plea challenging Vaid’s appointment as DGP

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Srinagar May 16: The J&K High Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea challenging the appointment of Dr S P Vaid as the top cop of the state by superseding his senior officer, S K Mishra.

Justices A M Magray and M K Hanjura while dismissing the petition by S K Mishra, managing director J&K Police Housing Corporation (a Post equivalent to Director General of Police – DGP) observed that seniority cannot be the basis for making appointment for the post of DGP for the state of J&K.

“The post of top cop is a selection post, the appointment to which is made amongst the officers holding the post of DGP as is made abundantly clear by Note 2 attached to Sub-rule 2 to Rule 3”, said the judges.

They added (even if, for the sake of argument, it is assumed, but not conceded, that it is a promotional post), it has to be promotion by selection for which seniority is not the sole criterion”.

The petitioner Mishra pleaded that he is the senior most Indian Police Service (IPS Officer) of J&K, belonging to the 85 batch, whereas S.P.Vaid, belongs to the 86 batch of IPS.

He also pleaded that Vaid had illegally superseded him by virtue of a government order which is contrary to the law.

He filed a petition before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Chandigarh, challenging the vires of the order of the appointment of Vaid.

The Tribunal observed that there are no reasons, much less cogent, to interfere in the selection and appointment of Vaid as DGP of J&K.

Not finding favor with the judgment of the Tribunal Mishra filed a petition before the J&K Court. He sought directions for quashing the Tribunal’s decision, and prayed for appointment as the DGP of entire police force of the state.

At the core of his petition he challenged the state cabinet decision that had selected Vaid as the chief police officer of J&K.

The court held that the assessment of the merit and other relevant facts for making selection on the post of DGP was purely within the domain and jurisdiction of the state government.

It said since the petitioner was also considered in the panel of eligible officers by the cabinet, so he cannot challenge the validity of the order by which Vaid  had been selected and appointed as the DGP of J&K.

The court said, “It is not the seniority that holds the roost in making selection/ appointment of the Director General of Police, but the merit that has to prevail and has a binding force”.

“The post of the Director General of Police is a selection post, the appointment to which is made amongst the officers holding the post of Director General of Police as is made abundantly clear by Note 2 attached to Sub-rule 2 to Rule 3”, it said.

It stated “even if, for the sake of argument, it is assumed, but not conceded, that it is a promotional post, it has to be promotion by selection for which seniority is not the sole criterion”.

There are judicial precedents that lay down that the correctness of the reasons that prompted the government to take a decision and take one course of action instead of the other is not a matter of concern in the judicial review and the court is not the appropriate forum for conducting such investigations, it observed.

The scope of judicial review has to be confined to find out whether the Government decision was against the statutory provisions or violative of the fundamental rights of the citizens of the State, it said further.

The judges held that the courts have to be loath in interfering in the policy/ administrative decision taken by the Government unless it smacks of arbitrariness, or to put it in other words, that it is irrational and not circumspect or is wayward, aberrant, malicious and capricious, offending the basic requirement of Article 14 of the Constitutions of India.

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