APPOINTMENT OF Mr KANOJIA DGP COASTAL SECURITY
KOLKATA: Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) on Monday struck down the appointment of five senior police officers in the director general rank, including Bengal DGP GMP Reddy, putting the state government in a situation it has never faced before. CAT also quashed the screening committee set up for promotion of IPS officers to DG rank.
IPS officer Nazrul Islam had challenged the appointments and the screening committee in his petition to the tribunal. CAT on Monday ordered a new screening committee to be set up by February 18 — excluding home secretary Basudeb Bandyopadhyay — and selection to be completed by February 19. Nazrul retires on February 28.
The CAT order calls into question the appointment of DGP GMP Reddy, Vijoy Kumar, RJS Nalwa, Anil Kumar and Raj Kanojia. Except for Vijoy Kumar, who belongs to 1981 IPS batch, the same as Nazrul, the others are of the 1982 batch.
Nazrul was among the IPS officers considered for promotion but wasn't selected by the committee. The panel had not considered the empanelment of S Jayraman (1977), B D Sharma (1980), and Surendra Singh (1980) as they were on central posting. The screening committee comprised chief secretary Sanjay Mitra, principal secretary-home Basudeb Bandyopadhyay, DGP Naparajit Mukherjee and additional chief secretary of animal resource development department S N Haque.
The Mamata Banerjee government will wait for a copy of the CAT order and might appeal in high court. Minutes after news of the CAT order reached Nabanna, the chief minister held a meeting with the chief secretary and home secretary to decide a plan of action. "This is a very serious matter. We are not taking it lightly. The government is not contemplating any step based on the CAT order for the time being," the home secretary said.
Nazrul's lawyer Surajit Samanta and Madhumita Ray underlined that CAT has directed the five police officers to vacate their posts immediately. Ray said the state counsel prayed for a stay but the tribunal refused. "If the state moves high court, we will challenge it," said Samanta.
Nazrul, who is now ADG-provisioning, had pointed out in his petition that Basudeb Bandyopadhyay didn't satisfy the rule for being a member of the screening committee. He was principal secretary, home, when he attended the meeting on December 5, 2012, while the rule mandates that only an additional chief secretary-ranked head of the home department can be on the panel. In his petition, Nazrul cited the minutes of the meeting where Bandyopadhyay has signed.
CAT Justice Pratap Kumar Ray and administrative member R Bandyopadhyay didn't buy the government's plea that Basudeb Bandyopadhyay was present as an "invitee member." From the government note, it appears that Bandyopadhyay had attended a similar meeting on July 18, 2012, as principal secretary. This was Nazrul's moot point against the setting up of the screening committee. He drew CAT's attention to the fact that the chief secretary is responsible for ascertaining facts and ensuring that the screening committee is proper.
Nazrul also contested the grading of officers as 'outstanding, very good, good and average' by the screening committee, citing performance appraisal report rules laid down by the Centre. Nazrul submitted that the benchmarks should be decided on numerical grading.
Nazrul was once a favourite of Mamata, but fell from grace after being brought back to Bengal as officer on special duty-coordination when Mamata was CM. Nazrul didn't take the assignment and was put on compulsory waiting before being made ADG-provisioning. Nazrul's distance with Mamata grew wider after he wrote two books on Muslims.