UPSC tells Punjab & Haryana High court: CAT order in Punjab DGP case will affect selection in other states

Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta

THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court Wednesday issued a notice to all respondents on a plea filed by the Union Public Service Commission against conclusions drawn by the Central Administrative Tribunal in its judgment quashing appointment of Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta. The matter pertains to the legality of guidelines being followed by the UPSC in preparing the panel of officers for DGP selection in India.

Additional Solicitor General of India, Aman Lekhi, appearing before the division bench of Justices Jaswant Singh and Sant Prakash on behalf of the UPSC, submitted that if the CAT order stands, it will affect all the 28 Empanelment Committee decisions, taken since 2010 across India in which similar guidelines were followed for DGP selection. The CAT had ruled the guidelines lack the authenticity and legality.

The division bench Wednesday was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by Punjab government, DGP Dinkar Gupta and senior IPS officer Siddharth Chattopadhyaya regarding the CAT decision. Chattopadhyaya has filed a petition with regard to his allegations of bias against former DGP Suresh Arora, who was member of the Empanelment Committee. The allegations of prejudice were rejected by the CAT.

Both Chattopadhyaya and UPSC’s petitions had come up for hearing before the court on previous dates too this month but notice had not been issued then. The CAT’s decision by which Gupta’s appointment was set aside was stayed last month by the court.

During the resumed hearing of the matter, the division bench said a formal notice will have to be issued to the parties in accordance with the procedure and also observed that it is conscious of urgency in the matter. The court added that a piecemeal hearing is not advisable in the matter and gave a short adjournment for March 5.

Senior Advocates Maninder Singh and Puneet Bali Wednesday appeared for Gupta. State government was represented by Advocate General Atul Nanda. Senior Advocate Rajiv Atma Ram represents Chattopadhyaya. Senior Advocate D.S Patwalia represents IPS officer Mohd. Mustafa, who Wednesday submitted that he will suffer because of any adjournment in the case. Mustafa is set to go out of consideration zone after August 2020.

The UPSC in its petition has said the draft guidelines applied by the Empanelment Committee in preparation of panel of officers for DGP selection do not contravene the criteria laid down by the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh’s case. A DGP is selected from among three senior most officers finalised by an empanelment committee of the UPSC. The officers are selected by the Committee from the names sent by the state government in anticipation of the vacancy of DGP post.

The UPSC said the draft guidelines have been followed and applied uniformly in 28 Empanelment Committee meetings held since November 2010 across India and the Supreme Court has expressed satisfaction with the practice being adopted by it. It has also said that zone of consideration includes officers belonging to the IPS of concerned cadre not below the rank of ADG and who have completed at least 30 years of service.