The recent MHA order dated September 13 states that all those officers whose names will now be recommended, will belong to a "Shape 1" fitness category.
The "Shape 1" fitness category mentions the highest levels of fitness in terms of physical capacity, psychological health, hearing, appendages and eyesight.
The order states that from now on an officer can be recommended only three times for any award. It also says state police needs to do background checks on the integrity and character of the officers before recommending an officer for the awards.
The IPS fraternity is not enthusiastic about these new guidelines. "You give these awards after years of service for fairness for professionalism and how well an officer has been able to establish the rule of law in the area he or she is working. So how is fitness a parameter for all this?" asked a DG ranking officer.
According to the officer, it is not a good idea to judge officers on the basis of physical fitness for these awards. "If this is the criteria then mostly officers who run marathons or officers who regularly visit the gym would be the only front runners," he added.
Another senior IPS officer questioned the weight criteria of the awards, saying that the awards are only given because one has been an effective officer for almost two decades.
Meritorious awards are given after 18 years of service in the police and the Distinguished Service award is given only after 25 years of service.
The government had also recently linked the promotion of IPS officers to physical fitness. The promotions system is already in force among the central para-military forces, where senior officers must be certified in the "Shape 1" category.
Many police officers also ridiculed the Ministry order for only singling out IPS officers. They questioned why IAS officers are also not judged by the same criteria.
According to a Home Ministry official, all IPS officers will from now be asked to take a mandatory physical fitness test at an approved government hospital or before a certified medical board, ahead of promotion to the next level of seniority.
The reasoning behind the criteria making proper fitness mandatory for IPS officers is that they, particularly at the DIG, IG, ADG and DG levels, need to lead from the front and set an example for those under their command to take physical fitness seriously.
According to the Home Ministry official, an IPS officer, "unlike an IAS officer needs to be physically fit and active to handle field assignments in times of unrest and other law & order emergencies".