MHA proposal: SPs, DIGs who don’t serve at Centre can’t get stint later

IN ANOTHER move that is set to be opposed by the state governments, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has proposed that an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who does not come on Central deputation at the Superintendent of Police (SP) or Deputy Inspector General (DIG) level may be barred from Central posting for the rest of his/ her career.

This comes close on the heels of the Centre sending a proposal to states to amend the All India Service Rules that would allow it to call any IAS (Indian Administrative Service), IPS or IFoS (Indian Forest Service) officer on Central deputation, with or without the state’s consent. In another revision of rules in February, the Centre also scrapped the empanelment requirement for DIG-level IPS officers on central deputation.

The latest proposal, sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), is seen as an attempt to address the shortage of officers at the SP and DIG levels at the Centre. According to sources, there are over 50 per cent vacancies at both these levels in the different Central Armed Police Forces and Central Police Organisations.

Currently, the rules state that if an IPS officer does not spend three years on Central deputation till the Inspector General (IG) level, he/she will not be empaneled for central deputation. MHA sources said that due to the existing rules, most IPS officers come on central deputation only at the IG level, leading to severe shortage at the SP and DIG levels.

Most states don’t relieve SPs and DIGs for central deputation as they have enough vacancies at these levels. Since there are fewer posts at the IG and above levels, these officers are then sent to the Centre.

Sources in the IPS said the Centre was taking a short cut that would hurt the services. “IPS officers at the SP and DIG levels are not coming to the Centre because the states are not relieving them…. Why should an IPS officer miss a chance to serve at the Centre at a senior level because the state did not allow him to go? Also, this may be counter-productive. If the states don’t relieve the officers, there would be no further empanelment. The Centre will eventually not get enough officers at the IG and above levels as well,” said a senior IPS officer.

Sources said the situation has arisen due to the then A B Vajpayee government’s decision to reduce the size of new IPS batches as part of its cost-cutting measures. From 80-90 new officers, the IPS batches were cut to 35-40 officers (in 1999-2002, the average stood at 36). On the other hand, an average of about 85 IPS officers retire every year.

“While the number of districts in some states has doubled in a decade or so, the availability of officers was cut to one-third,” said a former MHA official.

In 2009, there were over 1,600 vacancies against a sanctioned strength of over 4,000 IPS officers. The then Manmohan Singh government tried to correct this anomaly by restoring the earlier intake. The IPS batches were increased to as much as 150  — in 2020, the intake was 200. As on January 1, 2020, there were 908 vacancies against a sanctioned strength of 4,982.

Earlier, most states, including those with NDA governments like Bihar, criticised the Centre’s proposal to change the IAS and IPS service rules, calling it an attack on the federal structure of the Constitution.

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