‘Caste play’ at work as Congress high command mulls over new Punjab DGP

The names of 1986 batch IPS officer Sidharth Chattopadhyaya, 1987 batch officer VK Bhawra and 1988 batch officer Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota are doing the rounds

‘Caste play’ at work as Congress high command mulls over new Punjab DGP

Charanjit Singh Channi. Tribune file

Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21

The appointment of the new Punjab DGP awaits approval of the Congress high command.

A  marathon meeting took place on Monday night between Chief Minister Charanjit Channi and other senior Congress leaders over selection of the new DGP and a rejig in police and administration.

They shortlisted the eligible officers but the final nod would be given by Rahul Gandhi, sources said.

Punjab likely to get new DGP

Though the new CM favours Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota, sources say caste equations in the new dispensation may affect his chances. Sahota belongs to the Scheduled Caste community. Already the Dalit CM has appointed IAS Hussan Lal, an SC official, as his principal secretary. Sources said the Congress high command wanted a balance in the caste equation.

The names of 1986 batch IPS officer Sidharth Chattopadhyaya, 1987 batch officer VK Bhawra and 1988 batch officer Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota are doing the rounds. All these officers have more than six months of service left making them eligible for the post.

Chattopadhyaya met Channi on Tuesday, sources said. The government may take a decision by Tuesday night or Wednesday. Sources say Chattopadhyaya has a close proximity with the new political group of the Congress but Sahota is a strong candidate due to less opposition against him within the new Congress group in power. He has 11 months of service left and has largely remained non-controversial.

Bhawra and Rohit Chaudhary, who have nine and seven months of service left respectively, too can emerge as the final choice.

The CM office is also looking at procedural and legal clarity on the appointment of the DGP - whether it can change the DGP on its own immediately or has to go through the Union Public Service Commission. The Punjab government is trying to take a leaf from the West Bengal government that appointed acting DGP Madan Malviya till the UPSC clears the panel of officers.

The Supreme Court in 2018 had laid down the procedure for the appointment of the DGP of a state. It said a state government had to send a panel of five or more officers to the UPSC three months before the retirement of the incumbent DGP. The UPSC was authorised to form a panel of three officers based on the candidate’s length of service, record and range of service. The apex court in March 2019 revised the orders saying officers with six months of service could be empanelled. Earlier, it was two years of service left.

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