Sanctity of cooling off period: Lessons from the unsavoury saga of Bihar’s Gupteshwar Pandey

With Bihar elections scheduled for October-November, former DGP of the state Gupteshwar Pandey has joined JD(U) in the presence of the party’s national president and chief minister Nitish Kumar. It is expected that he will soon get a party ticket to fight the elections. He made national headlines in the high-profile Sushant Singh Rajput case by championing the Bihar police against the Maharashtra police, and also by challenging Rhea Chakrabarty on what “aukat” she had to question Nitish Kumar.

What is to be noted is that the top cop has joined politics within five days of taking voluntary retirement from police. This casts doubt on how independently he had led the investigation into the electorally significant SSR case.

Also read: Who is Gupteshwar Pandey, JD(U)’s latest recruit ahead of Bihar polls?

The episode is a salutary reminder of the importance of the cooling off period for all government servants. This applies not just to their joining politics or powerful government sinecures but also the private sector.  When senior public servants join private companies soon after retiring, with their cooling off period waived on the government’s discretion, that too is a conflict of interest open to accusations of crony capitalism. As it is, the mandated cooling off periods are arguably inadequate. The dictum that Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion has to prevail.


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