Direct recruitment of 20 ASPs irks IPs

SC moved against National Police Commission

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Sri Lanka Police Inspectors’ Association has successfully moved Supreme Court against a controversial move to recruit 20 graduates as Assistant Superintendents of Police (ASPs).

The Inspectors’ Association has alleged that such direct enlistment will deprive its members of equal opportunity and their legitimate right to secure promotions.

The SC has suspended the move pending further hearing in response to Fundamental Rights application filed by the Inspectors’ Association against the National Police Commission (NPC).

The Inspectors’ Association has not objected to the recruitment of direct ASPs as it recognises the requirement but has opposed the move to accommodate 20 new ASPs simultaneously at the expense of those who toiled their way up.

Sources said that the association had moved the SC after having failed to convince the police top brass and the NPC of the urgent need to review disputed decision on 20 ASPs.

There has never been a previous instance of the Inspectors’ Association moving SC against the NPC established in accordance with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution enacted soon after the change of the government in January 2015.

Sources said that there wouldn’t be an issue if a few direct enlistments were made to meet the requirement. But, 20 direct ASPs would simply obstruct the legitimate path of Inspectors’ Association members, thereby demoralizing the inspectorate.

Responding to another query, sources pointed out that during the presidency of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (2001) and Mahinda Rajapaksa (2008), there had been 15 and 14 direct enlistment of ASPs, respectively. Sources said that such large recruitment had deprived members of the Inspectorate much deserved opportunity to secure promotions.

Now, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration wanted to recruit 20 graduates in spite of strong opposition from the Inspectorate, sources said, adding that a consensus was needed on the issue. According to police headquarters records, there had been two direct enlistments in 1982, three in 1985, two in 1986, four in 1987, three in 1998, seven in 1999, 15 in 2001 and 14 in 2008.

Sources asserted that the law enforcement could further deteriorate, rapidly, if members of the Inspectorate felt that the government policy deprived them of career advancement. Asked whether the issue could be settled within the department, sources said that policymakers should be mindful of the responsibilities of the Inspectorate. Sources said that a person who had joined the service as a probationary Sub Inspector would find it impossible to secure a higher rank if the top administration was clogged with graduates.

Sources pointed out that those bent on taking 20 graduates simultaneously, had conveniently forgotten there were only 12 slots for Senior DIGs and 45 for DIGs.

Sources said that the Inspectorate had pointed out that obstruction of career advancement of its members would have a catastrophic impact on policing at national level. Sources expected the Law and Order Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara would inquire into the situation afresh and take tangible measures to address the grievances of the electorate or face the consequences.

Sources pointed out that a direct ASP could secure appointment as DIG within 14/15 years after receiving the appointment.

In a letter addressed to President Maithripala Sirisena, last year, the Inspectorate, called for his immediate intervention to address the grievances of its members. Chairman of the Inspectors’ association Chief Inspector Pinnaduwage and its Secretary Asitha de Silva explained how officers who had served the department during the conflict suffered due to administrative shortcomings and the negligence on the part of their top brass.

They pointed out to President Sirisena that those in authority had failed to ensure justice for the Inspectorate responsible for giving the required leadership to 60,000 personnel assigned for law enforcement duties. The inspectorate blamed the former top brass for not formulating proper promotion procedures as well as unilateral decisions in respect of promotion at the expense of deserving officers for the current crisis in the department.

Pointing out that in accordance with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the NPC was responsible for formulating promotion scheme for officers excluding the IGP, the Inspectorate stressed the responsibility on the part of the independent commission to fulfill its obligations. The Inspectorate pushed the government and the NPC to move on this matter without further delay to ensure improvement in policing at all levels.

The Inspectorate stressed that urgent need to address the grievances of women officers.

Sources said that Minister Madduma Bandara had been apprised of the situation and his intervention sought to take up the issue with higher authorities.

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