Police Sergeant – Sub Inspector Issue That Went Up To Higher Courts
By Dineth Siriwhardena
A burning issue that has been simmering in the Police is the crisis created by the methodology adopted in promoting police sergeants as Sub Inspectors. This issue has even gone up to the Supreme Court and a large number of police officers are yet to get their promotions.
This problem was created by adopting two different schemes for promoting officers in the permanent police force and the police sub service. Before 2006, officers were recruited to the police under two different schemes for permanent service and sub service.
The officers in the permanent police service were confirmed after three years of service whereas there was no such scheme for the police sub service. The problem started with the holding of a written examination for promoting constables in the permanent service as sergeants.
On the results of this written exam the promotions were given during January 1999.
However, interviews have been held in 1997 to promote constables in the sub service as police sergeants. These promotions were granted during the same month.
Later by a Gazette notice published in February 2006, it was informed that the Police sub service and the Permanent service will be amalgamated to form one police service. The period of service of the subservice officers were calculated from the date of joining. Thus there was no issue with regard to the permanent and sub services. There was one police service.
However, a problem arose with regard to the promotion of constables as sergeants and police sergeants as Sub-Inspectors. There was an accepted methodology in giving points for their service. According to this scheme they get one point for every four years served as a constable and four points for every year served as a sergeant. In addition they also received marks for period of service, commendations, courses followed and driving licence, etc.
However, an interview was held in 2007 for promoting sergeants as sub inspectors. Officers who scored more than 62 marks were promoted as Sub Inspectors.
But during the period when there were two services, the permanent service constables received their promotions three years after the written examination held in 1996 whereas the sub service officers received their promotions during the same month they had the interviews in 1997. Thus the promotions of one group got delayed by nearly 2 1/2 years As a result of this. It is alleged that they lost about 10-12 points in calculating marks for their promotion as Sub –Inspectors.
A group of police officers filed a fundamental rights violation case in Supreme Court based on the fact that these interviews were not held properly. The judgment given by the courts was favourable to the petitioners. They received the promotions as Sub Inspectors of Police and were made effective from the date the promotions were given after the interviews held in 2007. Thus these officers will have a five year service period as Sub Inspectors by 2012.
The most distinctive part of this judgment is the following.
‘In view of the provisions contained in Article 126 of the Constitution the relief granted by this order would be applicable only to these petitioners who had come before this court within one month of the issuance of RTM 228 dated 09.02.2010. It is well settled law that equity aids the vigilant and not the others who sleep over their rights’.
After this court order even the officers who received marks as low as 47 benefitted. As a result, a number of officers went before the courts claiming that if those who scored 47 marks are given promotions, they too are eligible for such promotions. But all these cases were rejected.
Six cases filed on the same issue have been rejected before this judgment. The officers who filed these petitions wrote to the Public Service Commission requesting them to be promoted as Sub-Inspectors. In their letter they state as follows.
“As we had the necessary qualifications according to our service conditions and the various circulars issued by the Police Department with regard to promotions, we applied for a promotion from the post of sergeant to the post of sub inspector of Police and we were called for an interview on 9th July 2009.
All of us and many others became eligible for promotion to the post of Sub Inspector as we obtained the necessary marks. In the meantime as some others who scored less than us were promoted as Sub-Inspectors, we filed a Fundamental Rights Violation case in the Supreme Court.
According to the judgment of this case SC/FR 145/10 delivered on 2010.01.19, all those police sergeants who have scored 47 marks and above at the interview and qualified according to the scheme of recruitment should be promoted as Sub Inspectors. Further the order given in the SC/FR 199/2010 was that all those female police sergeants who have scored 59 marks and above at the interview and qualified according to the scheme of recruitment (RTM 228) should be promoted as Sub Inspectors.
However these will not be applicable to those who did not come before the courts for redress within one month for the violation of their fundamental rights.”
“We all applied within the statutory period with regard to the violation of our fundamental rights, but the courts rejected these applications. Another group like us who petitioned the Supreme Courts with regard to the violation of fundamental rights have been given redress by the judgment in the case No. SC/FR/199/2010”
After studying all the issues the lawyers Faiz Mustapa, Gazzali Hussain, Janaka Jennadige and Anurada Gamage went before the Appeal court by filing a Writ application to consider all six cases as one case. This case No. 2012/125 was taken up on the 27th June and was postponed for 10th September.
The officers who are affected are of the opinion that this was a problem created by the short sighted approach of the officers who handled his case earlier. The present IGP had to resolve this long standing issue. The way he handled the issue and the manner in which promotions were granted by him is commendable. The officers who filed five cases have received their due promotions. The six cases that were rejected are being considered as one case in the Appeal Courts. Experts are of the view that this problem could be resolved by promoting these officers as Sub Inspectors from 2007.
Most of the officers in the Police Service hope that with the intervention of the IGP the 200 odd officers will also get justice which will make the Police Service more efficient.