With Commissioner Sanjay Barve unlikely to get third extension, Mumbai Police may get new boss by March

Updated: Feb 27, 2020, 08:41 IST | Faizan Khan, Vishal Singh | Mumbai

With the chief minister and home minister reluctant to give Commissioner Sanjay Barve, set to retire on February 29, a third extension, city police likely to have a new boss in March

(L-R) ACB chief Param Bir Singh; Pune police commissioner Dr. K Venkatesham and Maharashtra police ADG (law and order) Rajnish Seth
(L-R) ACB chief Param Bir Singh; Pune police commissioner Dr. K Venkatesham and Maharashtra police ADG (law and order) Rajnish Seth

Mumbai police and IPS circles are abuzz with talk of the appointment of the city's top cop. Two days before the incumbent Commissioner of Police (CP) Sanjay Barve is to retire, the home department is completely mum on the issue. According to sources, Barve may not get a third extension.

Sources close to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said that although a final decision is yet to be made, they believe another extension would be an injustice to deserving candidates waiting for an appointment. No request for an extension has been sent to the union government either.

"As we are in an alliance, discussions will happen with senior leaders of our partners before a final call is taken," said a source in Shiv Sena.

"As per service rules, an extension of six months can be given to any serving officer, but sometimes governments give extensions of a year or two. They may be challenged in court but no one goes against the government's move," a senior IPS officer said on condition of anonymity. There are four senior IPS officers in the race for the top post in Mumbai police. The foremost being Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) chief Param Bir Singh who has previously been CP Thane and a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in several important zones in Mumbai. Singh landed in trouble during his stint as CP Thane when former CP Julio Ribeiro wrote a letter against him, calling him a 'bad cop'. Recently, Singh was in the headlines after he absolved senior NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in the irrigation scam.

The second contender is Maharashtra Police's Additional Director General (ADG) (law and order) Rajnish Seth. The 1988 batch IPS officer has held posts of Joint Commissioner (law and order) in Mumbai and ADG in the ACB. He was also a principal secretary in the state Home Department.

The third contender is Director General (DG) Home Guards Sanjay Pandey. A 1986 batch IPS officer, Pandey was a DCP in Mumbai during the 1992-93 riots. Pandey had resigned in 2000 due to political pressure after he took action in corruption cases related to the coalition government that ruled between 1995 and 1999. He later withdrew his resignation, went on long leave and resumed service in 2006.

Dr K Venkatesham, serving as the CP in Pune, is the fourth contender. An IPS officer of the 1988 batch, Venkatesham started his career as an Assistant Superintendent of Police in the Naxal-affected Gondia district in the early 1990s. During his stint, he developed an extensive information network which led to the arrest of a Maoist group's commander.

Furthermore, to prevent tribals from turning to Maoism, Venkatesham organised medical and de-addiction camps. He is known for his friendly nature and strict attitude in the police department. As Pune's CP, he has strengthened ties with Punekars. According to sources, since the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government is considering forming a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the Koregaon Bhima case against nine activists — currently being probed by Pune police — it may not appoint him to avoid controversy.

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