A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian said that the PIL, filed by a resident of Jharkhand, cannot be accepted in a service matter.
The plea claimed that the decision violates the apex court’s orders regarding fixed tenure and seniority of state police chiefs.
Senior advocates Fali S. Nariman and Neeraj Kishan Kaul, representing the Jharkhand government, contended that the PIL is a proxy litigation and cannot be entertained under jurisdiction of Constitution’s Article 32. Nariman contended that the court cannot intervene in a service matter.
Senior advocate R. Venkataramani, appearing for petitioner Prahlad Narayan Singh, did not agree with this argument.
As the Chief Justice noted that the petitioner cannot file a PIL in a matter where he is personally concerned, Venkataramani contended that the petitioner is a resident of Jharkhand and deserves to know how Rao was appointed as acting DGP despite the apex court’s 2006 judgment in the Prakash Singh case (2006) on police reforms.
Holding that it is not keen on entertaining this PIL, the bench said that the petitioner should have come to the top court with a public cause. “A public cause seeking reforms in the police force cannot be a service matter. So, please do not equate yourself with the Prakash Singh case,” it observed.
The bench noted that if it finds that the concerned authorities are not following norms, that is something else, but the point here remains that the petitioner is not anyone in service.
Rao, an IPS officer of 1987 batch, was given the additional charge as DGP on March 16, after DGP Kamal Nayan Choubey was transferred as an officer on special duty (OSD) in the Police Modernisation Division in New Delhi.
The plea contended that Rao stood fourth in seniority of Jharkhand cadre IPS officers, and he was already holding charge as Director General, Fire Services and Home Guard. The petitioner also noted that Choubey was transferred within 10 months of his appointment.