End politics over appointment of police chief

For a city constantly on terror alert, it is shocking that the government is yet to decide on the name of the next police chief. For a week now, files of all important policy decisions and future plans of the force have been gathering dust, as the department has been eagerly waiting for the appointment of the commissioner of police.

The post has been lying vacant since Dr Satyapal Singh took voluntary retirement on January 31. Two days after Singh put in his papers, the state government relieved him of his responsibilities and asked joint commissioner Hemant Nagrale to take charge till a successor is appointed. While the presence of the acting commissioner has ensured that policing work remains largely unaffected, if a crisis emerges, the department may see tumult over whom to take orders from.

Though at present Nagrale holds all the powers that the city’s top cop would enjoy, it goes without saying that the department works on ad hocism in the absence of a police commissioner. The acting commissioner will only clear and work on present and unavoidable issues. He will not implement or approve policies that require long-term investment.

This means that all the vital strategic issues, the administrative and augmentation process and, more importantly, the badlis (transfers) have been kept on hold. Mumbai police’s world evolves around the badlis, i.e., the future postings of policemen.

It is evident that differences between coalition partners who run the state — the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — have led to this hold-up in appointment. But it’s high time the government stopped dragging its feet and acted promptly in the matter, as the citizenry expects it.

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