How do the police in the state acquire postings that are more lucrative, more prestigious? Not by working hard, and definitely not by solving more cases and providing dedicated services to citizens. A Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed that the shortest route to plum postings is through netas. Going by the revelations made in response to RTI activist Jeetendra Ghadge’s application, recommendations for transfer of numerous cops to various police departments were made by ruling ministers, former ministers, MPs and MLAs.
The response reveals how some police officials are violating rule 413 of the police manual, which categorically states that ‘government servants are forbidden to approach officials of other departments or non-official gentlemen for support in pressing individual claims’.
Remarkably, instead of taking stringent disciplinary action against police officials seeking favours and patronage from politicos, the home department has, in fact, acknowledged the receipt of such dubious letters of ‘recommendation’.
In the last few months, most of the recommendations made by politicians are on behalf of police officials of the ranks of deputy superintendent and additional superintendent of police, who are either keen on postings and transfers to the traffic department, state CID, Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) or even the State Reserve Police Force.
Ghadge had filed an RTI query on January 16, 2013, seeking copies of all the letters of recommendation sent by various ministers seeking transfer or promotion of police officials over the last three years.
In response, Ghadge was allowed inspection of the said letters by the home department on March 6, and copies of recommendation letters were given to him on March 13, 2013. Since the entire home department office on the eighth floor of the Mantralaya had caught fire last year, he received only a few copies of recommendation letters. But these were enough to confirm his suspicions.
As per the documents, eight police officials had used their political clout between August 2012 and February 2013, and made their contacts in high places send request letters to the chief minister or home minister. The ‘recommendation letters’ have even been accepted and acknowledged with rubber stamps of the chief minister and home minister. In the RTI responses, the political leaders mention the posts that the applicants are vying for.
In cases where the letters are directly addressed to Home Minister RR Patil, his signature and stamp are accompanied by a note which says “pl (please) put up’, penned right above his signature, asking for the consideration of the home department official that the letter has been forwarded to.
Ghadge said, “Political interference is a serious issue, and aggravates the law and order problem. Good cops are often sidelined, whereas the corrupt get the plum postings. The contents of these letters suggest cops want influential postings where corruption is rife. You will never see a cop lobbying to get a posting in the Anti-Terror Squad. It’s because of these few corrupt police officials that the whole force gets a bad reputation.”
He added, “The home department can stop this trend if they have the will power. Even though there is a rule against such practices, who cares?”
While none of the recommendations have actually translated to actual postings, former IPS officer turned lawyer Y P Singh labelled the very act of sending recommendations through influential politicos a ‘violation of service code’. Singh said, “The home minister is being tactful instead of taking firm action against police officials who violate the rules. He acknowledged the receipt and forwarded the letters to the his subordinates with remark ‘please put up,’ which may be a suggestion that they do the needful. They are following the policy of pick and choose which is not permissible under Article 14 of the constitution.” Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal said, “No one has brought this matter to my notice, nor has anyone written to me. If you have any specific case, do let us know. I will look into the matter.”
Rule 413 of the police manual
Government servants are forbidden to approach officials of other departments or non-official gentlemen for support in pressing individual claims or obtaining redress of grievances, or to approach members of the legislature with a view of having their individual grievances made the subjects of the interpellations of the legislature. They will be liable for disciplinary action if members of the Legislature or non-official persons approach the government on their behalf unless they can prove that such approach was made without their knowledge.
Cases in point
Name of politician: Vasant Davkhare, deputy speaker, state Vidhan Parishad
Letter addressed to: Chief Minister Prithivraj Chavan on November 3, 2012
Posting for: Additional SP (Latur) S D Kokate Recommended post: Additional SP, Thane (rural) Kokate said, “I am still in my old posting in Latur and have not been transferred. I have no clue about such a letter written by Davkhare, though I have heard of him, I never approached him nor know him personally. I am in the midst of controlling a riot and will speak to you later.”Davkhare said, “I do not know Kokate, some police officer recommended him and requested me to write to the chief minister. Being a politician, it is my duty to provide such assistance, but the policemen should also understand that my letter does not guarantee their transfer. Such recommendations does not work every time.”
Name of politician: Babanrao Pachpute, state tribal development minister
Letter addressed to: Home Minister R R Patil on December 13, 2012
Posting for: Deputy SP, State Reserve Police Force, Group 10- Solapur S M Khedkar Recommended post: Deputy SP, SRPF — Group 5, 7 (Daund) or
Group 1 (Pune) Khedkar said, “I am due for retirement on June 30, 2013. I had approached the minister hoping that I can spend my last few months before retirement with my family, who are in Pune. But it’s been three months since the request was made, and I am in still in Solapur. I have given up hope, and have already started processing my papers for retirement.” Babanrao Pachpute could not be contacted.
Name of Politician: Dr Kalyan Kale, MLA, Aurangabad
Letter addressed to: Prithviraj Chavan on September 22, 2012
Posting for: Additional SP (Aurangabad) Ramesh Gorale, who was transferred to the Police Training Academy, Nasik Recommended post: Additional SP, Aurangabad (rural) Gorale said, “I do not know the MLA personally, nor was the request accepted.” Kale said, “I had made a recommendation for Gorale to the chief minister, but I was informed by the government that since Gorale had already accepted his posting and resumed duty at Nasik, nothing could be done. I usually refrain from sending such recommendations, unless some police officer makes a personal request.”
Name of politician: Vinay Kore, MLA, Kolhapur
Letter addressed to: Home Minister R R Patil on January 1, 2013
Posting for: Deputy SP (GRP), Pune, Anees Qazi
Recommended post: Additional SP, state CID, Pune (officers get a one-rank promotion when they join the state CID) Qazi said, “Since I am due for retirement in July 2013, I thought it is better to retire from state CID, as the officers get one rank promotion and I could have retired as Additional SP.” Vinay Kore said, “I know Qazi personally, and he had approached me asking to spend his pre-retirement time with his family in Pune. Hence I had made a request to the home minister and had even spoken to Patil personally on this case. He has assured he will look into the matter. Qazi was even open to any side posting in Pune. I can only put in a request and nothing more.”