KATHMANDU: With few days for the senior officials’ tenure in the office, the ‘rush’ for amendment on compulsory retirement in 30 years has become more intense than before.
The issue, as before, has caught attention at the time when the senior officials are at the line of retirement under the 30 years compulsory retirement provision.
Incumbent IGP Sarbendra Khanal is retiring from the post on Feb 12 under the same provision. The same provision has caused the retirement of 3 AIGs and 19 DIGs on Feb. 12 as well.
The officials who entered the security force as Police Inspector on Feb. 11, 1990 have completed their 30 years in office and have become subject to the mandatory retirement.
However, the officials held in line of promotion and likely to claim the senior posts provided the same provision prevails have knocked the door at Home Ministry citing any amendment, if made now, would affect their chance of getting the opportunity. These prospective candidates of high posts have expressed their concern by meeting Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa.
Is the 30 years-retirement provision likely to be changed?
The government has drafted a new ‘Police Act’. The bill expected to be tabled in the parliament last year has not reached the Cabinet due to the same dispute related with mandatory retirement after 30 years in office.
The Bill meant to be tabled in federal parliament in May, 2018 is still in Home Ministry. According to a source in the Ministry, changes have been made in the title and some of the provisions of the bill.
Taking consent from both ministries the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the Ministry for Finance, the bill was tried to be tabled at the Cabinet in May, 2019. Later, with the speculations about the possible protests and legal complexities, it was later halted at the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Kedar Nath Sharma, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Home Affairs informed Khabarhub that the Public Service Commission has already nodded affirmatively in this regard. According to Spokesperson Sharma, a bill to substitute the prevalent Police Act 1955 is waiting to be tabled in the Cabinet.
“The Bill is ready. Formerly it was sent back the Prime Minister’s Office asking to seek the feedback of Public Service Commission,” Sharma said, “Now after the inclusion of all the feedbacks and comments from the PSC, we are planning to table it in the cabinet.”
A Bill related to the provisions on the formation and terms of reference to work in police service prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs has not said anything for or against the 30 years-compulsory retirement provision. Rather it has stated that the people whoever join police force now can go on retirement either after the maturity of the tenure or due to the age limit.
Provided the bill is ratified as it is, the incumbent ‘in-service’ personnel have to abide by the prevalent provisions of mandatory retirement after 30 years in office.
“The draft for new bill has the provisions of retirement on two grounds either due to age-limit or the maturity of the tenure in office,” one of the officials at the Ministry of Home says, “As per the new proposal, the provision relating to the maturity after 30 years in office shall phase out in 30 years from the proposed bill comes into effect.”
The draft for new bill may take some more months before it gets formally tabled and passed from the parliament.
“The draft of the bill is prepared, it will be taken to the parliament after cabinet decision,” one of the personnel at the Home Minister Thapa’s secretariat said to Khabarhub, “it may take two more months for parliamentarian procedure, so, the rumors about the dismissal of the provisions related with 30 year’s mandatory retirement are baseless.”
Supreme Court’s ‘objection’ on the removal of the ’30 year’s mandatory retirement’ provision
Nepal Police Regulations, 2015 has the provisions related with the terms of condition, retirement, pension for the people in police force.
Rules 127 (1-d) of the Police Regulations, 2014 has the provision related with the mandatory retirement after 30 years tenure in office.
Generally, provided the government wants the government can repeal or amend the provision from cabinet-level decision, however, in this issue the Supreme Court has restricted the privilege through one of its orders.
While giving verdict on the writ filed by former AIGs Madan Bahadur Khadka and Ganesh Raj Rai, the Supreme Court had asked the government not to include the issues related with the promotion, tenure in office, retirement in the Rules and rather include such grave issues only in the Police Act.
According to a legal official at the Ministry of Home Affairs, this verdict from the court has constrained the government from including the provisions related with the compulsory retirement in the proposed amendment.
“There have been frequent pressure from various sources demanding the change in this 30 years’ retirement provision. Every time an IGP is changed, the issue comes to ground,” the Ministry sources reveal to Khabarhub, “however, due to the SC precedent, nothing can be done unless the provision is included in the Police Act.”
Immediate impact of the change in ‘30 year’ provision
Most of the senior officials are not happy with this provision esp. when they have to retire before they are 55 years in age.
A taskforce formed under Former AIG Kuber Singh Rana and meant to study about the restructuring of Nepal Police had recommended to repeal the provision related with 30 year’s mandatory retirement.
The Taskforce Report had cited that the provision was resulting in the waste of state fund as the people who could perform further were forced to retire and new more got the extra benefits meant for the posts. However, junior officers in police feel the provision has been encouraging for them.
“The act of repealing the prevalent provision of 30 year’s retirement abruptly may deteriorate the conduct, performance, honesty, loyalty, professionalism, efficiency and neutrality,” says one of the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) under anonymity and further adds, “It may have adverse impact on the government’s commitment to good governance.”
According to him, the immediate repeal of the provision may let few in line reach at the top leadership while those belonging to 3-4 batch after them retire without getting the opportunity of performing their best. Yet, he thinks, the government should make a long-term strategy to address the issue.
“It’s not good to make inconsiderate decisions prompted by the political motifs in the grave issues related with the good governance and security management of the country. This was not heeded while enforcing the provision of 30 year mandatory retirement and the complexities are at the floor now,” he says calculatingly, “ such changes should the subject for inclusion while making new Act and should be applicable only to those who join the service then after.”