By Hcilondon1 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Senkumar Imbroglio: The Inherent Fallacies

TP Senkumar, was removed from the post of Director General of Police (Law and Order) and State Police Chief on June 1st, 2016 and was replaced by, DGP Loknath Behera who was serving as Commandant General Fire & Rescue Services, Civil Defence & Home Guards. ADGP N. Shankar Reddy, who was in charge of the Director, Vigilance & Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) was replaced with DGP Dr. Jacob Thomas, who was serving as Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) at Kerala Police Housing & Construction Corporation (KPHCC). Senkumar was further directed to take charge as CMD at the KPHCC office.

Senkumar was very much upset with his displacement as the State Police Chief and was very emotional when he talked to the media about his removal. He further noted on Facebook, “During the last 35 years I have always kept honesty, integrity and justice and a special care for the downtrodden. I still have all my vertebras intact. I have never appeased anybody for any posting. I have always tried to be impartial and fair. I can leave this place with full satisfaction that in my entire service career I have never asked any subordinate officer to do anything illegal. I have never allowed in my knowledge to arrest an innocent and pad up evidences. I hope this is the greatest satisfaction that a police officer can get. I have always resisted illegitimate interferences.”

Senkumar has now approached the Central Administrative Tribunal’s, Ernakulam Bench against his removal (a copy of the petition is with The Kochi Post) and is seeking a reinstatement as the State Police Chief. He further contests that the removal is illegal, arbitrary and without authority. One of his key arguments is that as per the directive of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh’s case, a DGP once appointed to the post should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation.

It is true that the Prakash Singh’s case did stipulate that the minimum tenure of a DGP must be two years. Subsequently, the Kerala Police Act of 2011 has incorporated the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh’s case and section 97 gives the guarantee of minimum tenure of two years to the DGP. However, in this scenario we have to look into Section 97(2) of the Kerala Police Act, 2011. This provides for the conditions for removing the officer before completion of two years. One of the grounds mentioned in Section 97(2)(e) is where the officer cause serious dissatisfaction in the general public about efficiency of police in his jurisdiction. It is by invoking this provision; the Government has removed Senkumar from the post.

Senkumar has now challenged that this section as violative of Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India and against the law laid down in Prakash Singh’s case. He contests that the section 97(2)(e) should be struck down. The Kerala Police Act does not go against the law in Prakash Singh’s case but has added a ground for removal, which the Legislature is very much empowered to do.

Senkumar also alleges that the post of CMD at KPHCC has come as a punishment. The fallacy of Senkumar’s argument of allegedly being appointed to a lower post is clear when one takes a look at the IPS Cadre Rules of 1954. In Kerala, there are only two cadre posts for DGP ranked officers. One is of the State Police Chief and other is of the Director – Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau. When an officer is moved from a cadre post to an ex cadre post, the only requirement is that the ex cadre post should be made equivalent to that of any one of the cadre post. Here that has been done. The post of Managing Director, Kerala Police Housing & Corporation is made equivalent in status and responsibility to the cadre post of Director, Vigilance & Anti-Corruption Bureau by the Government Order transferring Senkumar from the post of State Police chief to CMD, KPHCC.  So there is no punishment or downgrading of an officer involved.

During the last UDF Government, after the retirement of DGP Vincent M Paul though there were three DGP’s (Dr. Jacob Thomas, Loknath Behera and Rishi Raj Singh) apart from TP Senkumar, none was appointed to the cadre post of Vigilance Director which is supposed to be headed by a DGP ranked officer and instead the charge was handed over to ADGP, N Shankar Reddy. As a person who claims to have his vertebras intact and the State’s top cop, Senkumar should have convinced the then Government to appoint a DGP ranked officer to a key post like the Vigilance Director. However his silence led to VACB being dysfunctional and giving clean chits to various Ministers allegedly involved in a number of scams. This has assumed more significance now in the context of a Vigilance Court rejecting the Quick Verification Report (QVR) submitted by the VACB and asking to register case against two former UDF Ministers.

Senkumar should also spare thoughts for his colleague, Dr. Jacob Thomas who has witnessed more transfers in more short periods during his career. It was when Senkumar was serving as State Police Chief, Dr. Jacob Thomas was transferred from Fire & Rescue Services to KPHCC, three months after being appointed to the post; for taking a honest stand against apartment builders considering public safety.  Importantly Senkumar should not forget that DGP Alexander Jacob who was senior to TP Senkumar, was serving as the CMD of the Kerala Police Housing & Construction Corporation when he retired. What goes around comes around!

Photograph by Hcilondon1 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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