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Gaurav Yadav to continue as officiating Punjab DGP; Viresh Kumar Bhawra shifted

Gaurav Yadav to continue as officiating Punjab DGP; Viresh Kumar Bhawra shifted

Sharad Satya Chauhan, a 1992-batch IPS officer who was chairman-cum-managing director of PPHC would now function as PPHC MD.

Putting an end to the speculation over the continuation of senior IPS officer Gaurav Yadav as the officiating chief of the state police force, the Punjab government has appointed Director General of Police Viresh Kumar Bhawra as chairman of Punjab Police Housing Corporation.

Yadav, a 1992-batch officer, was given the additional charge of officiating Punjab DGP after Bhawra had proceeded on two-month leave at a time when a spate of violent incidents had put the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in a tight spot. Bhawra’s leave will end on September 4.

Before applying for leave, Bhawra had also sought a central deputation.

According to an official order issued on Friday, Bhawra, a 1987-batch IPS officer, who is the DGP (head of police force) has been appointed as chairman of the Punjab Police Housing Corporation. The order further said that Yadav will continue to hold the additional charge of the post of DGP till further orders.

Sharad Satya Chauhan, a 1992-batch IPS officer who was chairman-cum-managing director of PPHC would now function as PPHC MD.

The orders came at a time when a “a show cause notice” has been issued to Bhawra in connection with law and order incidents which occurred during his stint as state police chief.

Bhawra’s functioning as the state police chief had come under scanner following clash between two groups in Patiala, a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) attack on Punjab Police’s intelligence headquarters in Mohali and the brutal murder of singer-politician Sidhu Moosewala. The incidents were believed to have caused the AAP, which formed government after a landslide victory in this year’s Assembly polls winning 97 of the 117 Vidhan Sabha seats, dear in Sangrur Lok Sabha byelection where party candidate lost to Simranjit Singh Mann of SAD (Amritsar). The seat had fallen vacant after Bhagwant Mann relinquished as a member of parliament to become the chief minister. He had won the seat in 2014 and 2019.

Bhawra was appointed the DGP for two years in January this year just before the model code of conduct came into force for the Assembly elections held in February. The previous Congress government led by Charanjit Singh Channi had selected him out of a panel of three officers shortlisted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

With his leave getting over, norms mandate that he be appointed as the state policve chief, the post that he had been holding. However, the AAP government was keen on retaining Yadav as the officiating DGP as he hit the ground running from the day one to improve law and order situation, which has also shown result.

While Supreme Court guidelines stipulate that the state police chief would have a tenure of no less than two-years, a government functionary said there were provisions in the guidelines that the DGP can be removed from the post mid tenure citing reason, including being incapacitated and in case government initiates any action against the incumbent.

“In this case, Bhawra has been removed on the basis of show cause notice issued by the state government. The notice was issued following a correspondence by the Centre where it sought clarification from the state government about some serious incidents relating to law and order in Punjab,” said the functionary, wishing not to be quoted.

As per the Supreme Court guidelines, “The DGP may, however, be relieved of his responsibilities by the state government acting in consultation with the State Security Commission consequent upon any action taken against him under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules or following his conviction in a court of law in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption, or if he is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his duties.”

Bhawra, who is due to retire on May 31, 2024, was not available for comment, despite repeated attempts.

Meanwhile, the state government can appoint an officiating DGP for a maximum of six months. Within this period, it has to send a list of IPS officers to UPSC.

A 1989-batch officer Parag Jain (who is on central deputation for several years now), 1989-batch officer Sanjeev Kalra, 1988-batch officer Prabodh Kumar would be eligible to make it to the panel of officers to be sent to the UPSC for consideration as regular DGP. The government, sources said, is likely to send the list after October 10 Yadav, who superseded 1987-batch IPS officer Dinkar Gupta, completes mandatory 30-years of service, as laid down by the Supreme Court, for appointment as state DGP.

Similar is the case of his batch-mate Harpreet Singh Sidhu. Another officer from the same batch, Kuldeep Singh, would be eligible to make it to the panel on October 19.

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