With the recent promotions to the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) running into a storm amidst the axing of both the senior-most SSP in service and the second in line, at least five of the aggrieved high-ranking police officials have so far petitioned the Supreme Court challenging the National Police Commission (NPC) for denying their due promotions.
Two of the petitioners are still in service as DIGs on field promotions in operational areas while two others, also on field promotions as DIGs, retired some months ago – one of them after a stint in the Batticaloa Range and the other as the head of the City Traffic Division.
However, all four of them who went before the NPC’s Selections Board as SSPs vying for permanency in their rank as DIG, which they were either serving or had served on field elevations, were rejected.
Of the two aggrieved senior policemen still in service as DIGs on field promotions, one is due to retire early next month after more than 35 years of service. He is serving in an operational area at present.
SSPs W. Ferdie U. Fernando, the senior-most in this rank at present, Rienzie Perera, the next in line in terms of seniority, Y. G. R. M. Lafir, M. J. Savangan and Sunil Perera have, in individual Fundamental Rights (FR) pleas, claimed that a gross injustice has been done to them by not granting their promotions to the next rank.
Except for SSP Sunil Perera, two of these senior policemen are now serving as DIG’s on field promotions in the North and East — W. Ferdie U. Fernando (Wanni Range) and Rienzie Perera (Eastern Range – South) while the other two - M. J. Savangan and Y. G. R. M. Lafir, have already retired from service after serving Batticaloa Range and City Traffic Division, respectively, also as DIGs on field promotions.
Allegations of lack of transparency in the NPC interviews for DIGs and the haphazard manner in which they were conducted have also been raised by the aggrieved senior police officials.
It has been argued that the interviews were not called on the basis of seniority, which has been the accepted practice in the past. Discrimination has been alleged as only some of the aspirants were informed in advance about the marking scheme adopted for the interviews.
This had given a competitive edge to some aspirants over the others as they were already aware of the system used to allocate the required marks for promotion, it has been further alleged.
"The promotions were granted largely on merit", says K. C. Logeswaran, Secretary of the National Police Commission (NPC).
"We did allocate 45 marks for seniority, but the balance was spread over the capabilities, academic qualifications, achievements, language skills and commendations of the aspirants", he explained.
"The personal element of allocating points on discretion was minimum as the NPC could give only 15 marks for demeanor, leadership qualities and speech", Logeswaran noted. "We couldn’t go beyond that factor".
"Apart from the NPC Chairman and the IGP, there were independent representatives on the Selections Board", he stressed. "The interviews were straight-forward and objective".
Asked whether the IGP still had a big say in the process despite the presence of independent representatives, Logeswaran replied, "As head of the department, he had a say as much as the others on the Board".
"We looked at the larger picture beyond the aspect of seniority", he insisted. "Merit played a major role".
Dismissing speculation that there were charges, disciplinary or otherwise, pending against certain DIGs promoted during the latest round of interviews, he said the Selections Board scrutinized the ‘blemish records’ of the successful aspirants but did not come across "anything serious".
Of course, there may have been instances where some SSPs had been cited, as the head of a particular division, as respondents in FR cases concerning a policeman down the line, he explained. "This was acceptable as there was no direct involvement".
"We not only examined reports but even double checked with police officers handling disciplinary inquiries", he assured. "There were no adverse comments".
"It is unfortunate that two very senior officers in the department did not stand a chance for elevation to the next rank this time", he said.
The police department has a cadre of approximately 35 DIGs.
With DIG Rienzie Perera based in Ampara retiring next month (May), four others are also in line to step down during the course of this year.
"There are already vacancies for five more DIGs", police officials said. "By the end of this year, we will have five additional slots to fill".
The NPC approved the promotion of six more senior DIGs last week and appointed them in charge of different Ranges in the country.
Senior DIG .B. K. G. Navaratne in charge of the Central Range (West/East) and Sabaragamuwa, S. K. Shankar - Crimes and Police Narcotics Bureau, W. M. Nimal Mediwaka - Colombo, Western Province (North/South) and North Western Range West, G. G. J. P. Gamage - North Central Range and North Western Range (East), C. Keerthi D. G. Gajanayaka - State Intelligence Services, President’s Security Range and Special protection Range and D. W. Prathapasinghe - Southern and Uva Ranges.