Pulling up the state government and the police force, the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) recently said that it is the basic responsibility of these authorities to fill up vacancies in the force that are necessary to run the administration. MAT has, accordingly, ordered both the government as well as the state police force to fill up the 102 posts of drivers that are lying vacant since 2011.
A single bench of Chairperson Justice Mridula Bhatkar has also said that if a constable is kept as a driver for more than three years, then there are chances that s/he may lose fitness and other abilities of investigation.
The tribunal was seized with a plea filed by Nikhil Gaikwad, who was initially taken in the force as a police constable, but for the six years of his career has been posted as a driver in the force's motor transport division, Pune.
Gaikwad petitioned Justice Bhatkar's bench, seeking directives to the higher authorities to transfer him to a police station as a constable.
However, the superintendent of police cited that there are 102 vacancies of drivers in the force and, thus, he can't be sent to a police station.
"Gaikwad has not taken his job for the post of driver, however, till today, has put in more than 6 years. Not filling the 102 vacant posts of the drivers cannot be a justifiable ground on the part of the state, because it is their basic responsibility to fill up the posts," the judge said.
The bench noted that the police department hasn't specified the exact time since when these posts are vacant.
"In general, it is normal to have few vacancies for a particular post due to retirement, death and removal, amongst others. But keeping a substantial number of posts vacant for a long period undoubtedly affects good governance," the judge observed.
"Thus, the department needs to fill up the vacant posts when there is a dearth of the police constables for bandobast, investigation and maintaining law and order. If the constables are made to work as driver for more than 3 years, then there are chances
of losing their ability of investigation, fitness and other skills," Justice Bhatkar added.
Accordingly, the tribunal ordered the state police to transfer Gaikwad to some police station.