J&K High Court issues notice to govt over ''illegal'' appointment of SPOs as police constables

JAMMU: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has issued a notice to the government after admitting an application seeking a CBI investigation into alleged illegal appointment of Special Police Officers (SPOs) as constables from 2018 to March 2020.

A division bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul issued the notice earlier this week to the chief secretary, the principal secretary (Home), the director general of police (DGP), and the senior superintendent of police (SSP) of Anantnag after hearing Salih Pirzada, lawyer for the petitioner.

The PIL alleged that the senior police officer of Anantnag, in connivance with the DGP, had appointed SPOs working on consolidated wages as constables in the police department on the basis of operational functions in the south Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam.

"It is submitted here that the persons recruited/selected/appointed on the basis of operational functions were either working as SPOs with the high-profile bureaucrats or were performing the duties at the residences of police officers or many other bureaucrats. By indulging in this act, the respondents 3 (DGP) and 4 (SSP Anantnag) have indulged in mass scale irregularities in appointing them as constables," the PIL read.

Claiming that the filling of vacancies of constables amongst SPOs in such a manner is "bad in law" and against the "spirit of fair selection", the petitioner, who hails from a minority community, alleged that there is a nexus in the police department and due to the present situation, such recruitments are made with impunity.

"There is gross manipulation in selection/appointments to various ranks in the police department, especially from the rank of SPOs to constables, as had been done in the year 2018 to 2020. The appointees are illegally shown to have participated in operational duties, particularly in south Kashmir, where there is no scope of their proximity in the field operations," the petitioner claimed.

He claimed the police department has neither uploaded the orders of these constables on its website as on date, which manifests malice and arbitrariness on the part of the DGP and the SSP of Anantnag, nor has the list whereby these appointees were originally working as SPOs made public.

"The approach of the respondent-police department needs to be ascertained and looked into by an agency other than the one which directly controls the police department. Therefore, in the fitness of things, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) needs to be directed to take the case into their hands and investigate the matter thoroughly and submit the report to the court," the petitioner said.

Demanding that a list of persons recruited or appointed on the basis of operational functions by the DGP and the SSP Anantnag from 2018 to March 2020 be submitted in the court, the petitioner urged the bench to direct the chief secretary and the principal secretary (Home) to initiate an inquiry into the matter and file a status report before it.

After hearing the counsel for the petitioner, the division bench issued the notices and directed the respondents to file their responses before the next date of hearing on August 4.

 

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PTI