Finally, zonal system scrapped in Punjab police

Chandigarh, March 14: The Punjab cabinet on Tuesday okayed the scrapping of zones in Punjab Police, but only after underlining that even deputy inspectors general (DIGs) and not just IGs, who earlier headed zones, can head the smaller jurisdiction units called ranges.

At present, ranges comprise two to three districts each, and are headed by DIGs; while IGs head zones, which comprise multiple ranges. As part of scrapping the zones, a proposal mooted by the state police chief said IGs would head the ranges. This was aimed at ensuring senior officers for smaller units, to increase efficiency. But some cabinet ministers, including Brahm Mohindra and Tript Rajinder Bajwa, opposed it, saying that such a system would mean loss of field-posting opportunities for DIGs.

It came to the fore on Tuesday that, after a cabinet meet in November last year, the home department had amended the original proposal to also include DIGs. The issue, however, had continued to fester even at the previous cabinet meeting, last week, when the ordinance already passed by the governor was brought up for discussion to forward it to the Vidhan Sabha’s next session in order to make it a law.

“Punjab Police has such a contentious system for promotion that any officer who starts his service from inspector level hardly reaches the rank of DIG. So putting IGs as head of ranges, replacing DIGs, will affect their chances to get posted in the field,” the ministers had said.

These ministers had said they were not aware of the ordinance forwarded to the governor, and questioned the urgency to bring in an ordinance which is an emergency measure for six months at a time. Officers of the home department, however, claimed that the ordinance passed by the governor on January 2 had the cabinet’s nod.

On Tuesday, the ministers were told that the provision of posting DIGs as head of ranges will give those from the Punjab Police Service (PPS) a “fair chance” against higher-ranked officers from the Indian Police Service (IPS), they passed the proposal to forward the amendment to the upcoming budget session.

The police zones were Patiala, Bathinda, Jalandhar and Border (Amritsar). Now remain the ranges, which are seven — Patiala, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Border (Amritsar) and Rupnagar.

The ordinance has also amended section (4b) of the Punjab Police Act and banned the inter-cadre postings to the level of inspector. Earlier, allegedly due to political pressure, officers posted in other wings used to manage plum postings in the district police units, thus ignoring chances of officers from the same cadre.

Armed police, intelligence, investigation, and technical and support services, shall form separate cadres. Officers who opt for transfer to district police, if transferred, shall be placed below officers holding the same rank in the district police in terms of seniority, the ordinance says.

Further, the cabinet approved the draft Punjab Transparency and Accountability in Delivery of Public Services Bill, 2018, while also deciding to set up a sub-committee on governance reforms. The new legislation will repeal the earlier Punjab Right to Service Act, 2011. The cabinet also gave ex post facto approval to constitution of the PGREC.

Source Hindustan Times