The process of appointing the next Mumbai Police Commissioner is underway after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) denied the Maharashtra government’s proposal for a two-year extension to the current Director General of Police D Padsalgikar who is going to retire this month. However, incumbent Commissioner of Police Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, the 1985 batch IPS officer, will become the most senior officer in the state after Padsalgikar retires. Bhaskar Jadhav, a Kandivali resident said, “Be it any circumstances, the Mumbai Police play an important role. People from different parts of the country stay in Mumbai and the new Commissioner must be connected with the Mumbaikars. He should be a team player with an ability to get along with others in the department.”
Sources stated that the top contenders for the Mumbai Police Commissioner’s post are Parambir Singh, the Additional Director General of Police (law and order), Sanjay Barve, the Director General of Police (Anti Corruption Bureau), Pune Police Commissioner Dr. K Venkatesham, and Thane Police Commissioner Vivek Phansalkar. With reports going around the selection process, the prevailing political partiality plays a significant role as believed by many. A three months extension was given to Padsalgikar last year which is going to end this month. Until now, only two DGPs – SS Virk and Ajit Parasnis – were given an extension on their services for three months. Padasalgikar is the only DIG who got an extension for six months.
While talking with AV, human rights activist Feroze Mithiborwala said, “Every ruling government prioritises their preferred appointees. However, we want the most promising, senior, and deserving person to hold the post of the Mumbai Police Commissioner. The Mumbai police have done a remarkable job in controlling crimes.”
Sanjay Barve is known as the soft-spoken yet very strict police officer with a good record. However, before his present posting, he has held the post of Additional Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, at a time when the department was drafting important cases like that of former minister Chhagan Bhujpal. Barve has also worked as the Mumbai’s joint CP traffic, ADG Railways, Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police, and Solapur Police Commissioner. He has a good record of working in Mumbai as the Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Economic Offences Wing.
However, as per the other reports, Parambir Singh is being considered as another contender for the post. His record as the Thane Police Commissioner has been notable. With the approaching elections, it is believed by many that he could be favoured the most for his good crime busting and force management skills. Singh has worked in the high profile west region of the city (Bandra to Andheri) and as the Deputy Commissioner of Police of the crime branch and various other zones. He had raided Dagdi Chawl when Arun Gowli was at the helm of his power. He also has served as the Superintendent of Police in Chandrapur, Bhandara, and Thane. He was also the Deputy Inspector General of Police in the Anti-Terrorism Squad. Dolphy Dsouza, Convener of Police Reforms Watch expressed, “Mumbai needs a Police Commissioner who is a person of integrity and accessibility, who is willing to work with the citizens along with his team towards ensuring better law and order, and has a focus on redressing genuine grievances of the people. These needs must be kept in mind while selecting the Police Commissioner.”
The third name that is doing the rounds is Dr. K Venkatesham, who was first posted in the Maoist hot region of Gondia in 1988. After that, he has been a part of several major actions taken by the police. He has served various posts which include the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Gondia, the Deputy Inspector General of Law and Order for Maharashtra, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Mumbai, and the Additional Commissioner of Police, Mumbai. Venkatesham received the President’s medal in 2013 for his distinguished service when he was serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana, a state government-run organisation. Apart from all these postings, he has also been a part of the special investigation team (SIT) which was appointed by the Supreme Court in 2008 to investigate the 2002 Godhra riots.
However, observing the scene running around the appointment of the Mumbai Police Commissioner, Retired Deputy Superintendent of Police MI Shaikh asserted, “Whether it’s the Congress or the BJP government, every political party has its own choice in the selection of the Commissioner of Police and the Director General of Police that have tenure of two years each. The Mumbai Police play an independent role and don’t succumb to political pressure; we have great expectations from the new Police Commissioner and the selection for the post is done as per the seniority and experience of the officers.”