Veerappan hunt: Madras high court trashes accelerated promotion of cops
“The GO dated July 24, 2013, is an affront on the well settled sacrosanct legal precedents, said Justice V Parthiban, adding, “Either the government was blissfully ignorant as how to exercise its power referable to the Constitution in overruling the judgment of the constitutional court, or it was a cocky demonstration of officious imprudence.”
The issues pertain to accelerated promotion granted to 752 special task force (STF) personnel involved in the hunt for Veerappan by the then chief minister J Jayalalithaa in 2004. Though the promotion was conceived as a one-time measure, all the 752 personnel were granted accelerated seniority for their subsequent promotions.
Since the promotions of regular police personnel who couldn’t be part of the STF due to no fault of theirs were affected, in 2007, the then DMK government passed a GO cancelling the accelerated seniority. It was a one-time measure to appreciate their gallantry and was not intended to continue at every stage of their career, the government had reasoned.
Aggrieved, the STF personnel moved the high court. While the pleas were pending consideration of a division bench of the court, in 2012, the AIADMK government cancelled the 2007 GO, thereby restoring accelerated seniority to STF.
Expressing its dismay over the act of the state while the issue is pending in court, a division bench set aside the 2012 GO. As a ‘knee jerk reaction’, the AIADMK government passed another GO in 2013 amending the special rules for the Tamil Nadu police paving way for accelerated seniority to STF personnel. The issue was again taken to court, and the latter has now quashed the government order amending the rules and called it unconstitutional.
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A livid Justice Parthiban said, “In the opinion of this court, such cavalier approach by the government to the important issue would tantamount to caricaturing power vested in the state under Article 162 of the Constitution.”
The Government appears to be on a policy roller coaster flip flopping all along, said Justice Parthiban, adding: “Even till the end, when the government has not formulated any definite policy as to which side it should support in tune with the law of the land.”
When the policies were conceived and implemented on the basis of expediencies surrendering the overall interest of the department, the policy becomes too vulnerable and susceptible to judicial interference, the judge said.