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SC for scrutiny on police chiefs appointment

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday to make a closer scrutiny of the process of appointing state police chiefs to evolve a system for it on a constitutional basis and not merely as a stop-gap arrangement while also factoring its limitation that it does not govern the country.

"We want to know if it is permissible for the court to interfere with the affairs concerning the federal structure of the country," said a bench a Chief Justice S H Kapadia while dealing with a plea for implementation of the court`s various directions on police reform given in September 2006.

The bench made the remarks while examining if the states should have a decisive say in appointment of their police chiefs or they should pick them out of a list of three senior most, eligible officers, made by UPSC as per the court`s September 2006 ruling on police reform.

"We should put it on a constitutional basis, otherwise it will be a temporary step, just to fill the gap," said the bench, which also included justices Aftab Alam and K S Radhakrishnan.

While expressing its intention to delve deep into the issue, the bench also reminded it of its limitations saying, "at the same time, we have to keep in mind that we are not governing the country."

While discussing the issue of appointment of state police chiefs, the bench also briefly dwelt on the issue of appointment of chiefs of various central police forces, including the Central Bureau of Investigation and asked the Centre to apprise it of the process adopted for appointing CBI Director.

The bench is also examining as to what should be the course adopted if the most eligible police officer, suited for appointment as state`s police chief, falls short by a few months in completing a minimum two-year tenure envisaged in the ruling on police reform.

While examining the issue, the court wanted to know if it would be legally and constitutionally permissible for it to allow the incumbent police chief some more time to complete the minimum tenure.

On December 6 last year, the court had been told that there was some confusion in implementing the direction on the appointment of states` DGPs as some states think it had the sole prerogative on the issue and the Union Public Service Commission need not be consulted on it.

The court is seized of an application by the UPSC filed in August 2009 on its jurisdictional clash with states on the appointment of DGPs.

The UPSC, in its application, had recalled that the court, in its ruling on police reform on September 22, 2006, had assigned it the specific task on the issue of appointment of police chiefs in various states and union territories.

The court had asked UPSC to choose the three most suitable and eligible police officers of the state from among the senior most ones for tentative appointment of one of them as a state`s police chief.

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