Imbroglio over top cop in Nagaland. Chief Secretary can be shifted, but not DGP: Supreme Court

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Source: Times of India – Hindustan Times


If a Chief Secretary loses the confidence of the Chief Minister, he or she may be shifted to another post in the larger interest of administration but it cannot be applicable to the head of police force in the state and DGP cannot be removed merely on this basis, the Supreme Court has ruled earlier.


A media report published last year in the Times of India about this ruling of the Supreme Court was doing the rounds of social media against the backdrop of the decision taken by the Nagaland government to replace Rupin Sharma, IPS as DGP.


Despite a public campaign demanding his retention as State police chief, the State Government on Wednesday kept Rupin Sharma, IPS on “compulsory wait” and appointed Additional Director General of Police (law & order), Renchamo P Kikon, IPS to take current charge of DGP Nagaland in addition to his normal duties with immediate effect.


“There is a difference in the role of the chief secretary as the chief executive of the state and the DGP of a state their roles cannot be equated. While the Chief Secretary can be removed if he or she does not enjoy the confidence of the Chief Minister or does not have a complete rapport and understanding with the CM, the removal cannot be questioned unless there is a violation of some statutory or constitutional provision. But that is not so with the state police chief”, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta had ruled.


While the local media in Nagaland reported about the notification that kept the outgoing DGP on “compulsory wait”, a report in the Hindustan Times says that the Nagaland government “is set to take disciplinary action against him for allegedly orchestrating a campaign using state police and public, with protests and signature campaigns, to extend his tenure as the state police chief”.



Rupin Sharma refuted the allegations, saying, “I have nothing to do with this campaign.”


Social media has been flooded with photos and messages in support of Sharma, referring to him as “the People’s DGP”.


Beside the public, a section of the state police had initiated a signature campaign to demand that the 1992-batch IPS officer be allowed to continue as DGP.


Calling it “attempts to engineer a mutiny among the state police”, the Hindustan Times report further quotes a senior state government official, who on condition of anonymity, said that the government has been “advised to initiate disciplinary proceedings”.


The state government said the campaign was orchestrated.


“It was an informed decision on the basis of inputs received from agencies that he (Sharma) was responsible for creating the hype on social media and also engineering protests not only by public but members of the forces that led to a serious likelihood of breakdown of law and order,” Temjen Toy, chief secretary, Nagaland government said, according to the Hindustan Times report.


He noted that the campaign was launched “at a time when the state was grappling with issues arising on account of violent attacks on armed forces”.


This official quoted earlier explained how the state government was “disappointed” on how an administrative decision to appoint the DGP, a prerogative of the state government, has become “a matter of public debate and discussion”.


Sharma’s ouster came months after the state government had sought a senior officer from the Centre in March.


Meanwhile, according to the Times of India media report, the Supreme Court bench drew the distinction between the posts of Chief Secretary and DGP while reinstating senior IPS officer T P Senkumar as DGP of Kerala. Senkumar was removed from his post much before the end of his two-year tenure by the LDF government soon after it assumed office.


The SC said posts of Chief Secretary and DGP were both sensitive but the sensitivity attached to the post of a Chief Secretary has a different dimension from that of the post of DGP.


“Unlike the Chief Secretary of the state, the state police chief as the head of the police force is concerned with the probe of crimes, law and order and public order and not general executive administration. Police must be permitted to function without any regard to the status and position of any person while investigating a crime or taking preventive measures”, it said.


“In other words, the rule of law should not become a casualty to the whims and fancies of the political executive. In that event, the state police chief might be pressured laterally by the political executive and vertically by the administration. It is to ensure that no such pressure is exerted on the state police chief and if so exerted, then the state police chief does not succumb to such pressure that the judgement in Prakash Singh case provided for security of tenure and insulating police from the Executive”, the bench said.


Referring to its earlier verdict, SC said the Chief Secretary is the “lynchpin” in the administration and the CM must have complete confidence in him or her and there must be complete rapport and understanding between them. “Since the CM is in ultimate charge of the administration of the state and is answerable to the people for the achievements and failures of the government, if the chief secretary forfeits the confidence of the CM, he or she may be shifted…”

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