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CAT among police pigeons in Bengal

Calcutta, Feb. 3: A tribunal has quashed the appointment of five IPS officers to the post of director-general of police in Bengal, including the state police chief, following a complaint of supersession by fellow officer Nazrul Islam.

“The five DGs will have to vacate their posts immediately,” the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) said in today’s order issued after a hearing at Nizam Palace in the city. The state government has hinted at challenging the order in court.

The five officers are G.M.P. Reddy, who was appointed director-general of Bengal police a little over four months ago on October 1, Raj Kanojia, DG (coastal), Vijay Kumar, DG (enforcement branch), Anil Kumar, DG (armed police) and Ravinderjit Singh Nalwa, DG (home guard and civil defence).

In the complaint with the CAT — set up to adjudicate disputes over recruitment and service conditions of central government employees — Islam, a 1981-batch IPS officer, had raised several questions on the manner in which the five officers had superseded him.

Islam, according to his complaint in September 2013, was stuck at the rank of additional director-general despite having the requisite seniority to become a director-general.

The officer, who had fallen out with the Mamata Banerjee government, had also questioned whether the departmental promotion committee was rightfully constituted. “The decision of the departmental promotion committee has been quashed…” the CAT said in its order today.

“The state government is directed to hold (a) further screening committee meeting on February 18 for the consideration of promotion of the applicant,” Justice (retired) Pratap Roy added in his order.

Although the state government sought a two-week stay on the CAT order, the prayer was not admitted as Islam is scheduled to retire on February 28.

Government sources said chief secretary Sanjay Mitra, home secretary Basudeb Banerjee and the chief minister went into a huddle soon after they learnt about the order this afternoon.

Later, home secretary Banerjee said: “We are yet to receive the certified copy of the order. After we get it, we will examine the order in detail. We have all options open, including challenging the order in a higher court.”

“We are not taking any administrative action on the basis of the order,” Banerjee added.

A CAT order is binding on the state government but can be contested in the high court or the Supreme Court.

Considered the first of its kind in recent years, the order has caused much discomfort for the government, also because Islam had once shared a good rapport with Mamata who had made him executive director of security at the railway ministry. “Later, their relationship soured,” said an IAS officer.