In Feb 2013, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) had directed the Centre and Delhi Government to overcome the problem of stagnation in the cadre of the Inspectors in the Delhi Police. “We cannot ignore the fact that there is an acute problem of stagnation in the cadre of the applicants (Inspectors), which requires immediate remedial measure,” a bench comprising members G George Paracken and Shekhar Agarwal said. The Tribunal also observed that “the problem has arisen mainly on account of inadequate recruitment of direct recruits and not holding cadre review on time.” The order came while disposing of a plea of three Delhi Police Inspectors who had moved the tribunal aggrieved by the “stagnation” in their cadre after they were granted just one promotion despite being in service for three decades.
The service prospects of Inspectors of J&K Police are no less gloomy and disheartening. Stagnation in the promotion and seniority disputes are two major issues for which several petitions have been filed in the court by different batches of sub Inspectors, Inspectors, DySP and SSP. Out of turn promotions (OTP) as well as promotion to the officials belonging to the reserved category has further demoralised the rank and files of the force where seniors are made subservient to juniors, something never witnessed in the Indian Army where even the recipient of Paramvir Chakra award or Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, the only Indian citizen to travel in space, had not been given any out of turn promotion. In different judgments, the courts have said that the grant of out of turn promotion to any employee would adversely affect the rights of other members of the service or class of service. Even the J&K Government order No. 187-HD of 1997 dated 30th May 1997 says that the promotee(s) shall not claim seniority over the other employees who are senior to them in their respective cadre(s).
Even after rendering 26 years of service, the 1995 batch Sub-Inspectors of Executive cadre have got just one promotion whereas in the same length of service in Civil departments, VLWs have become BDOs, Patwaris have become Tehsildars, Naib Tehsildars have become DCs, PT teachers have become ZEOs and ASP of IPS cadre have become Additional DGP. This raises the serious question mark on the priorities and welfare approach of successive governments in general and Home Commissioners/DGPs in particular who considered the lower and middle rung officials of J&K police as cannon fodder for glittering their APRs.
The 1998 batch of the Armed police sub inspectors are also facing the same stagnation in the promotion. They have also rendered 23 years of service and have got one promotion in return. Stagnation in promotion is not the only concern of the Inspectors of J&K Police. The seniority disputes among various batches of Inspectors and within the same batch is another serious concern that has created an unpleasant rift between the officers of different cadres of J&K police wearing the same khakhi and working under the same DGP.
The reason for the flaring up of the current issue is PHQ’s arbitrary decision to promote Inspectors of 1998 batch Armed before their three years seniors of 1995 batch of Executive Police. This needs to be understood by the recruitment of SIs in J&K in the recent past. After 1982, SIs were recruited in the years 1990, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2010, and latest in the year 2019. The 1995 batch of Sub Inspectors was a mixed batch of both Armed and Executive police but the whole batch was allotted executive cadre irrespective of the first choice for Armed wing by many applicants. On the other hand, the 1998 batch was purely an Armed batch. In between 1995 and 1998 batch, there are sub Inspectors of Computer batch and few SI’s of 1993 batch who joined the department in the year 1998 and had undergone basic training before 1998 batch. As such, they are also senior to the 1998 batch by virtue of their respective date of appointments. These Inspectors have also rendered 23 years of service mostly in the hostile environment facing militancy and tough law and order problems. However, they have got a mere one promotion which has resulted in demoralisation of the entire rank and files of middle rung officers of J&K police.
There is another legal and administrative angle to it. The cadres exist only up to the rank of Inspector. Once an inspector becomes DySP, he or she can be posted in Armed, Executive, or any other cadre/wing of the J&K Police. Here lies the problem. The Armed Police Sub Inspector who had undergone probation in a police station under the Executive police officer becomes his SDPO after being promoted as DySP before the Executive police officer. One can imagine the level of humiliation where a senior is made to salute the junior due to the wrong, unjust and biased approach of the PHQ.
The arbitrary decision of placing junior officers of the J&K Armed Police cadre over their senior J&K Executive cadre has created an unpleasant rift between the two cadres. Chapter XVIII Para 21.5 of DOPT circular says that if the officers placed junior to the officer concerned have been promoted, he should be promoted immediately and if there is no vacancy the junior-most person officiating in the higher grade should be reverted to accommodate him. Further, there are numerous judgments of CAT and Supreme Court which says that the person selected in the earlier panel cannot be given a lower place in the seniority in comparison to those who have been selected later.
However, this basic principle of fixing seniority has been bluntly abused by the PHQ. For example, most of the 1982 batch of Armed police retired as SSP whereas most of the police personnel of the 1979 batch of Executive police retired as DySP. Similarly, many SIs of the 1990 batch of Armed Cadre are at present Superintendent of Police while their batch mates of Executive cadre who otherwise are senior to them in batch seniority are still DySP and sadly, most of them will retire as DySP after rendering 35 years of service against two promotions.
As PHQ had initiated the process of promoting the 1998 batch sub-inspectors before the 1995 batch sub-inspectors, the latter had approached J&K High Court for justice. PHQ has its logic to it. PHQ considers Armed as a separate cadre and justifies their separate seniority and greatly relies upon decade old precedence in which the Armed police personnel had an edge over Executive personnel in promotions. On the other hand, Executive police personnel has counter argument in the shape of rule 24 of J&K CSR which says that the seniority shall be determined by the date of the first appointment. It further clarifies that where staff employed in different units under the control of one higher officer, borne on common seniority list are brought back on common seniority list because of re-amalgamation of bifurcated units, position ante must be reflected in the seniority list and original seniority must prevail. Any other view would be the denial of equality.
The Inspectors of Executive police have another argument to counter PHQ’s inclination towards Armed Police. They say that with the multiplicity of the functioning of police at hand, the fine line of the difference of role between Armed and Executive police has almost been blurred as the difference between SI’s/Inspector’s of Armed Police vis-à-vis the Executive cadre has remained only of nomenclature now as former are comprehensively occupying posts/positions in almost all the wings of the Executive cadre and where recently Armed police personnel have even been posted in almost all the wings including ACB and Crime Branch which are purely investigating wings exclusively borne on the personnel from Executive police being the feeding cadre. Not only this, Armed police Sub-Inspectors and Inspectors are now being posted in CBI, NIA, ED, IB on deputation apart from UN Assignments. When Armed cadre has encroached all the wings of the executive cadre then there exists no reason to consider them a separate entity.
Another argument in favour of Executive cadre is that the said cadre is inclusive of all wings of J&K Police ie., PHQ, ACB, SSG, SSF, SKPAU, PTS’s, PHs, CID, Security, Traffic, Crime, Railway, PTWS, 24 Districts of Jammu Zone and Kashmir Zone having overall strength 44618 only. In comparison, the Armed wing being created only as a striking reserve and to provide a support system to the executive police, primarily constituted for the twin purpose of providing internal security and for maintaining law and order law have a sanctioned strength of 37924. The figures have shown that there is no discrimination with J&K Armed Police as the Battalions sanctioned strength is maintained as per the battalion structure.
Apart from the said wrongdoings, PHQ also failed to implement the ‘Catch Up Formula’ while making the promotions in favour of reserved category candidates which means that the candidates belonging to the reserved category is brought to a higher place in the roster and be given promotion irrespective of his/her low merit in the same batch but once the whole batch is promoted, the candidate of reserved category shall come back to his original merit. In other words, the catch up formula ensures an accelerated promotion but not accelerated seniority.
With the recent promotion of Sub Inspectors of 2010 batch as Inspectors, all the Inspectors from the 1995 batch to the 2010 batch have been bracketed into one group. At present, about 700 Inspectors of J&K Police have acquired the minimum qualifying service to become DySP but due to lesser posts of DySP, the same cannot be done. The issue can be easily resolved provided there is a bureaucratic will and capacity to do it. The office of LG can take a call on this by creating a sizeable number of Supernumerary Vacancies to accommodate both batches of the 1995 Executive cadre and the 1998 batch of Armed cadre to clear the backlog. Regarding seniority, let the court decide the same once for all.