With the tenure of the present Director General of Police (DGP), Bihar, ending on December 19, the state government is all set to find a new incumbent for the top post soon, said a senior police official.
The new DGP will take over at a time when the state will be in election mode for back-to-back polls in 2024 and 2025 and the state government cannot afford to let law & order become a poll plank.
Bihar has 11 officers in the DG rank, out of which six are on central deputation. Out of them, the tenure of 1987 batch IPS officer A S Rajan ends on February 28, 2023. To become a DGP, one must have a tenure of at least six months left.
Unlike last time when incumbent DGP SK Singhal’s appointment on September 22, 2020, after his predecessor Gupteshwar Pandey took voluntary retirement, without empanelment from the UPSC landed up in the Supreme Court and the hearing is still on, the Bihar government has sent the names of all the DG-rank officers to the UPSC to get a panel of three names in accordance with merit and seniority. One of them could be elevated to the coveted post. The Supreme Court direction is clear that the appointment to the post of DGP cannot be ad hoc and needs to be on the recommendation of the empanel committee. Singhal continued for a two-year term fixed for the top post despite his scheduled retirement in August 2021.
However, this time the state government is treading cautiously and would not like any controversy. As per the Supreme Court’s direction, the exercise has to be completed three months prior to the date of retirement of the incumbent DGP.
“As per seniority, 1986 batch Sheelwardhan Singh, presently DG (CISF) is at the top, followed by 1988 batch Manmohan Singh, who is also on central deputation. Having remained on central deputation and away from the state for a long time, they are said to be unlikely to return to Bihar. DG-cum-civil defence commissioner Arbind Pandey is also of 1988 batch, but he has expressed his disinterest in donning the apex post,” said a senior officer in the police headquarters.
Pandey said that he has given in writing to the government that he be kept away from the DGP aspirants’ panel.
That brings 1989 batch Alok Raj, third on the overall seniority list, into the picture. He has a long tenure left as he retires in December 2025 and has experience of working with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) for seven years in the Naxal belt of West Bengal and Jharkhand. He is also a decorated officer. He has had a long stint in the state in various capacities and is presently DG (training). He earlier worked as IG (headquarters), IG (weaker section), special secretary (home), ADG (Law & Order), Special Branch, CID, Rail, DG (Training), Bihar police Academy, BSAP, DG-cum-Chairman of Bihar police building construction corporation.
Senior to him is 1987 batch Dinesh Singh Bisht, but he lost the DGP race in 2019 due to his stay away from Bihar on central deputation for the last 10 years. If this applies again, both Sheelwardhan Singh and Manmohan Singh will also be out of the race, as they have been on central deputation for almost 20 years. In that case, Alok Raj will be in the top position on the basis of seniority, state exposure, and merit, followed by Rajvinder Singh Bhatti, who is presently on central deputation, and Bihar home guard DG-cum-Commandant General Sobha Ohatker, who will retire on June 30, 2026. Being the lone woman, she is also a contender. Bhatti is also considered a tight officer. But considering the overall field experience in a difficult state like Bihar and seniority, Alok Raj seems to have a clear edge, said a senior police official, who is also in the race for the new DGP.