Udayavni Special

Centre fires another missive seeking 3 Bengal IPS officers, Mamata says move unconstitutional


PTI, Dec 17, 2020, 5:39 PM IST

Kolkata: The Centre Thursday shot off a fresh letter to the West Bengal government to immediately relieve its three IPS officers for central deputation, provoking a combative Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to brand the move as ”unconstitutional and unacceptable”.

A defiant Banerjee also declared she will not allow the ”brazen attempt to control the state machinery by proxy”, in escalation of tension between the state and the Centre.

Five days after the West Bengal government said it will not relieve the three IPS officers, the Centre sent a fresh missive on Thursday, asking the state to immediately release them so they could take up their new assignments. In a communication to the West Bengal chief secretary, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said, according to the IPS cadre rules, the Centre prevails over a state government in case of any dispute between the two.

Quoting the rule, the MHA noted in case of any disagreement between the central and the state governments, the ”state governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the central government”. The three officers — Bholanath Pandey (SP, Diamond Harbour), Praveen Tripathi (DIG, Presidency Range) and Rajeev Mishra (ADG, South Bengal) — were responsible for the security of BJP chief J P Nadda during his December 9-10 visit to the politically volatile state.

The Centre wants them shifted account of alleged dereliction of duty that led to an attack on Nadda’s convoy in Diamond Harbour constituency of TMC MP and Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee. Several vehicles in the convoy were damaged and BJP leaders received injuries in the attack. A livid Banerjee responded with expected anger.

”This move, particularly before the elections is against the basic tenets of the federal structure. It’s unconstitutional & completely unacceptable!” she said. ”GoI’s (Government of India) order of central deputation for the 3 serving IPS officers of West Bengal despite the State’s objection is a colourable exercise of power and blatant misuse of emergency provision of IPS Cadre Rule 1954,” Banerjee tweeted.

In its letter, the home ministry insisted that in accordance with the IPS cadre rules, the Centre prevails over the state in case of a dispute. However, Banerjee recalcitrantly asserted in another tweet, ”We wouldnt allow this brazen attempt by the Centre to control the State machinery by proxy! West Bengal is not going to cow-down in front of expansionist & undemocratic forces.” The MHA said Pandey has been appointed an SP in the Bureau of Police Research and Development, Tripathi as a DIG in the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Mishra an IG in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

The copy of the letter has also been sent to the West Bengal director general of police (DGP). On December 12, the West Bengal government had conveyed to the Centre that it would not be able to spare the three IPS officers.

A state government’s consent is taken before any all- India service officer is called to serve in central deputation. However, in this case, the MHA has unilaterally taken the decision under a clause of the Indian Police Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954.

After the attack on Nadda’s convoy, the latest flashpoint between the state and the Centre, the MHA had summoned the West Bengal chief secretary and DGP on December 14 for an explanation on the law-and-order situation in the state. However, the state government had refused send the two officers for a meeting with Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla.

The two top civil and police officers were called by the MHA after West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar sent a report on the attack on Nadda’s convoy. Dhankhar had also alleged at a press conference in Kolkata that violators of law have the protection of the police and the administration in West Bengal and any resistance by the opposition is quelled.

The West Bengal government has not sent a report on the ”serious security lapses” during Nadda’s visit to the state, as sought by the MHA.

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