Context: A Rajya Sabha committee has recommended that leadership positions currently reserved for the IPS in the CAPFs may be abolished outright, or at least severely curtailed.
Paramilitary is a force or unit whose function and organization are analogous or ancillary to those of a professional military force. Paramilitary forces are semi-military forces whose structures are similar to a professional military force, but who are not included as a nation’s formal armed forces. Paramilitary forces are often setup with some specific and dedicated roles and specialisations and duties, ranging from protecting our borders to counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism.
There are seven Central Armed Police Forces in India:
- Assam Rifles (AR) established in 1835.
- Border Security Force (BSF) established in 1965.
- Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) established in 1968.
- Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) established in 1939.
- Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) established in 1962.
- National Security Guard (NSG) established in 1974.
- Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) established in 1963.
When the paramilitary forces were raised post-independence, they drew officers and other staff from several organisations including the Army Police. Gradually, the deputation from all other organisations except the IPS stopped. The IPS provides leadership to five of the Central Armed Police Forces, namely BSF, ITBP, SSB, CISF and CRPF. The IPS providing leadership to armed forces has been questioned by experts, who have voiced for retaining the top posts for CAPF cadre officers.
Rationale behind IPS being allowed to lead CAPFs:
- All India Service (AIS): IPS is an AIS which is constitutionally mandated to serve state government as well as central government, hence IPS guarding CAPFs is legal.
- Rich experience: In peacetime, the CAPFs are primarily a reserve resource for supporting the state police forces, hence their leadership should understand the challenges of policing at the state and central level. IAS and IPS officers get exposure at both levels i.e. state level working and challenges of policy making at the Centre.
- Hands-on experience: The various state police forces have a few hundred battalions of armed police and India Reserve Battalions that have IPS commandants. Most IPS officers do a stint or two in these posts, hence they have working experience with CAPF.
- Human rights view of IPS: IPS officers view conflict scenarios from a ‘human rights’ angle and hence are better guardians of citizen’s human rights.
- Inevitability of civil police: The argument that CAPF is all competent in leading CAPF is flawed as
- Even those paramilitary forces that are operate in counter insurgency and anti-Naxal operations, need support of state police forces where the IPS have better understanding of grass roots requirements.
- The success of IPS-led organisations, like Punjab Police and J&K Police in fighting militancy, the Grey Hounds of Andhra Pradesh in the fight against left-wing extremism are examples of exceptional leadership and vision that the IPS can provide in special operations.
Arguments against the idea of IPS leading CAPFs:
- Availability of specialized guidance:
- CAPFs have a large specialised cadre of in-house officers, who have sufficient experience and maturity to man supervisory and policy-level posts.
- Cadre officers have much better insight when it comes to the psyche of the troops they command and the operational philosophy and ethos, which is more beneficial in policy formulation.
- IPS officers treat the CAPF as police and draft policies that are unsuitable for these forces.
- Lack of company and battalion level experience: IPS officers have no experience of cutting-edge leadership in CAPF organisations at the company and battalion level
- Civil Vs military role: CAPF organisations have a primarily military character and, therefore, a civil service like the IPS has no useful role to play in them.
- Reluctance of IPS: IPS officers usually don’t prefer to work at the operational levels and positions where life is difficult and because they lack the role specific experience.
- Against constitutional spirit: Continued deputation of IPS at CAPF top posts is violative of constitutional principles as it denies the cadre officers the right to be considered in spite of their obvious merit and experience in performing specialised tasks.
Recently a parliamentary panel report led by P Chidambaram criticized the IPS led CAPF management system and gave following recommendations:
- Since CAPFs have a large specialised cadre of officers the report rejected the justification for deputation of IPS officers to the top positions in paramilitary forces.
- They perform specialised tasks and their experience, gained through years in the field service, must not be allowed to go waste. Cadre officers should be considered for the posts of Director General (DG) not just to boost the forces’ morale but also to widen the selection pool.
- The deputation of IPS must be resorted to only when an experienced pool of officers is not available to man a position in CAPF.
- The deputation of AIS should be limited to ex-cadre posts, i.e. posts that are not part of a particular cadre and lack an adequate pool of trained officers.
- Considering the difference in the roles of the CAPF and the police, the report recommended limiting deputation to a maximum of 25% in any rank.