‘Side postings’ used by govts to keep police officers at bay

Home Guards is among the 'side postings' or 'punishment postings' frequently used by the government of the day to express displeasure with a particular officer or keep officers not amenable to them at bay.

WHEN PARAM Bir Singh, the former Mumbai Police Commissioner, was moved to DG Home Guards after the arrest of suspended officer Sachin Waze, it reminded several of Rakesh Maria’s career that had followed a similar trajectory. After the Sheena Bora murder case, Maria, also a high-profile officer like Singh, had been moved as DG Home Guards.

Home Guards is among the ‘side postings’ or ‘punishment postings’ frequently used by the government of the day to express displeasure with a particular officer or keep officers not amenable to them at bay. Apart from Home Guards, the Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC) and the recently created DG Civil Defence are posts that have been used to sideline officers.

A senior officer said that in September last year, the tri-party Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was stuck in a bizarre situation where it wanted to sideline some officers but there were no ‘side postings’ available. “A decision was hence taken to bifurcate Home Guards and Civil Defence. Rashmi Shukla was made the DG Civil Defence while Sanjay Pandey, who earlier held the post, was in-charge only of Home Guards,” the officer said.

“Bifurcating Home Guards and Civil Defence, a voluntary force that over the years has not had much to do, was a futile exercise just to accommodate someone,” the officer said.

After Singh was transferred as DG Home Guards, Pandey was transferred to MSSC. Pandey had expressed his displeasure with the posting and wrote to the CM.

Earlier this year, Pandey had written to the government asking it to merge Home Guards and MSSC, a force that was created based on the recommendation of the Ram Pradhan Committee formed in the aftermath of the 26/11 terror attacks.

“While MSSC, that provides security to several institutions, has been a profit-making force, it has to pay Rs 17 lakh as rent per month for the premises it occupies at the World Trade Centre. If it was merged with Home Guards, they could move into the Home Guards office. I had written to the government recommending this,” Pandey told The Indian Express.

Another officer said that apart from these postings, DG (Legal & Technical) is another post whose functions have narrowed over the years and has at times been used to sideline officers. “Initially, it was to serve as a link between the prosecution and forensics in order to improve the rate of conviction. However, later prosecution was taken out of its ambit and now only the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) reports to DG FSL,” the officer said.

While these posts have been used for senior officers, there are posts such as IG Protection of Civil Rights (PCR) at mid-level while further down the hierarchy Local Arms Unit of the Mumbai Police is used as ‘punishment posting’ for lower rung officers.

“Traditionally, over the years, whenever there has been some complaint against a junior rung police officer which does not warrant a suspension, they have been docked at the Local Arms Unit. The LA Unit majorly accompanies prison inmates to courts and back,” an officer said. “Be it any government, they continue to keep some posts even though they are aware it serves no purpose. It is just to accommodate officers who they suspect may become troublemakers or not ‘listen to them’.”

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