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Editorial: Now, Nepal Police

Editorial: Now, Nepal Police

Political meddling in the appointment, retention and promotion of top-ranking civil servants has become par for course in Nepal. One recent victim of this was Maha Prasad Adhikari, who was wrongfully sacked as Nepal Rastra Bank governor. The Supreme Court duly restored him to the post and dismissed the government’s flawed logic for his removal. Now an appointment in Nepal Police has come into controversy. On May 1, Additional Inspector General (AIG) Dhiraj Pratap Singh was appointed the new police chief. A day later, Biswa Raj Pokharel, second in command before Singh’s appointment, filed a writ at the Supreme Court, asking for the annulment of Singh’s ‘wrongful’ appointment made by violating seniority. 

Things are not so straightforward. Both Singh and Pokharel had joined the police force on the same day in 1993. But in 2019 the KP Sharma Oli government promoted Pokharel to the rank of Deputy Inspector General—ahead of Singh. A year later, it created an additional AIG post to adjust Pokharel, much to Singh’s chagrin. Now Singh has turned the tables on Pokharel. There is clearly a lot of politicking behind the appointment of the police chief—more so on election-eve.  

Over the years the government’s executive arm has behaved like a law unto itself. Whenever a new government is formed, it tries to appoint high-ranking judges and chiefs of security bodies along partisan lines, and the latest police row is part of the same trend. This is not to argue that a less competent senior officer must always be promoted over a more competent junior. But there is seldom any evaluation of competence when making these political appointments. 

Unless a system is developed to rigorously vet the eligibility to civil servants for top posts, the government would do well to stick to the seniority basis. After all, many officers are deservedly in higher ranks based on internal evaluations. Even if we don’t get it right immediately, in time, this will set a good precedent and boost the morale of our state organs. It’s never a good idea to break the natural chain of command without a solid reason.