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UP DGP Dismissed: Laxity Must Be Punished, But Not Selectively

Deterrent punishment is essential for a healthy police force, but it has to be unsparing, unbiased and impartial.

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The post of Director-General of Police (DGP) of any state is iconic. The public and the police look up to him/her as a source of inspiration, a friend, philosopher and guide, and one who gives protection to all.

The post of DGP of Uttar Pradesh is important as whoever holds it is the leader of the largest police force in the world, with more than 2.5 lakh personnel. This is not an easy assignment because the total crime in Uttar Pradesh is more than the collective crime in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Kashmir. The territory, the magnitude, and the type of problems defy all logic.

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Why the Elaborate Justification for Removal?

Under these circumstances, the removal of Mukul Goel from the post of Uttar Pradesh DGP on Wednesday came as a surprise, because never has it happened that an officer of this level has been charged with not taking interest in official work and lax control. A 1987-batch IPS officer, Goel took charge DGP in July 2021. He has now been made Director-General, Civil Defence. The state government said in its statement announcing his removal that Goel was “not taking interest in work” and was “disobeying orders”.

Removals have happened earlier under similar circumstances, but the reasons offered were just one-liners, mostly stating that the orders were being issued in ‘public interest’ – and that was the end of it. There never was a charge, which is customary in the case of junior officers.

I am not privy to the circumstances under which these orders were issued, and, therefore, would not be in a position to comment on them. The government has a prerogative of posting a suitable officer of its choice. The guidelines and the procedure are very clear: a panel is sent to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), which, after, due scrutiny, sends a few chosen names in a list of empanelled officers; the state government is at liberty to pick one to be appointed as the Director-General of Police, which is on the basis of seniority, competence, and past track record.

Of course, a DGP is expected to be a person with unmatched professional competence, unimpeachable integrity, social sensitivity of the highest order, and to be a role model and an icon for his force. The state government and the people do expect the world from the top cop.

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Unnao, Hathras, Gorakhpur, Mahoba: Where Action Should've Been Taken

Whereas nobody can fault the government for its action against Goel, there have been loud questions as to why such a drastic and deterrent action was not taken in prominent cases in the recent past.

In the Unnao rape case, an MLA of the ruling party, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, was the accused, and the entire criminal jurisprudence was brought to naught, ostensibly to safeguard just one person, ie, a VIP accused.

Similar horrible fault lines emerged in the Hathras gang rape case, when all guidelines laid down by the honourable Supreme Court in the Nirbhaya case were observed in their breach.

In Chandauli, a raid was carried out to apprehend a known gangster, but in the process, it is alleged that the gangster’s daughter was roughed up, and she died by suicide.

In a recent Gorakhpur case, too, a Kanpur businessman was the victim of brazen extortion – third-degree – which ultimately led to his death. The people of the state expected a prompt and unbiased response against corrupt elements in the police force. But things came too little, too late.

In another case, a Mahoba businessman, Indrakant Tripathi, died under suspicious and mysterious circumstances. The allegations were that the then-SP of Mahoba, a direct IPS officer, Maniklal Patidar, was responsible for cruel extortion, which pushed Tripathi to suicide. Patidar, incidentally, is still absconding, and a reward has been announced for his arrest. But a much more drastic action was expected of the government; Patidar should have been dealt with not with kid gloves but as a dacoit in uniform.

In all these cases, the state government was expected to take a similar deterrent and drastic action as it did in the case of Goel. That would have salvaged the prestige and dignity of the department.

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Prompt Action Must Be the Norm, Not an Exception

It is being alleged that the crime situation had gone out of hand. There is merit in this allegation in the light of the serial mass murders in Prayagraj; other cases of indiscipline were also a cause of concern. The police leadership cannot wash its hands off all these horrific cases.

However, it is expected that Goel’s will not be a solitary case where exemplary punishment has been given to a top cop, and that such will be the swift and exemplary response in all lapses and cases of breach of law and order.

This is because if the symptoms are indicative of the “show me the man and I’ll show you the rules” disease, one should know that it doesn’t work that way.

There has to be equality before law, equality before procedure; any lapse or indifference towards the pious duty of controlling crime and maintaining law and order will have consequences, even if it happens to be the highest officer in the department.

Exemplary and deterrent punishment is essential for a healthy police force, but it has to be unsparing, unbiased and impartial.

(Dr Vikram Singh is an Indian educationist and retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. He joined the IPS in 1974, and held the post of Director General of Police in the state of Uttar Pradesh from June 2007 to September 2009. This is an opinion piece, and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for them.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Uttar Pradesh   Yogi Adityanath   UP Police 

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