Saturday, October 21, 2006

Federal police force in the offing

This is one issue that really needs peoples complete support. The supreme court was right in ordering the implemenation of these reforms which are long over due. One of them is the creation of a federal police force that can fight terrorism, gather intelligence and most of all, clip the wings of state CM's and also keep a eye on the corrupt state police forces. Look at how these political mafia is resisting the implementation of the police reforms.

This is a subscription article:


Law And Order

The Supreme Court has issued directives for sweeping reforms in the police force. But the state governments, in fear of losing control over their fiefdom, are not very keen on implementation.

By Amarnath K. Menon

FUTURE PERFECT: The police force is up for a major overhaul

Come New Year, if the Supreme Court of India has its way, the police in the country are in for a meaningful makeover. The force may finally break free from the stranglehold of their political bosses and function with greater operational autonomy and professionalism.

The court directive recommends sweeping reforms, from restructuring of the entire force to its modernisation and various qualitative changes. The reforms have been long overdue as the profile of the constabulary and lower tiers, accounting for 90 per cent of the force, has changed vastly with more educated men and women joining at this entry level, expecting a satisfying, if not challenging, career. "If professional excellence is to be nurtured, even at the level of the constabulary, working conditions have to be improved," says Andhra Pradesh Director-General of Police Swaranjit Sen. This also calls for a change in the mindset of lower-tier officials that obedience and servility to senior officers and political masters is essential for promotion and better placements.

Though it took a decade for the Supreme Court to decide on the public interest litigation (PIL) seeking reforms in the police system, it has finally ordered a complete clean-up. The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Y.K. Sabharwal has ordered the cabinet secretary and chief secretaries to implement the directives. It has also asked Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati to ensure that all file compliance reports are presented to it on January 3.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court fiat is construed by most states as avoidable intervention by the judiciary in the role of the executive. After a couple of notices and an eight-week time limit, only eight states have responded by filing affidavits and that too opposing the proposed reforms. "While only Orissa favoured the petition, others summarily rejected it," observed Sabharwal while announcing the court's directives. Interestingly, despite recommendations from six national-level and 11 state-level police commissions, little has been done to usher in the reforms.

Clearly, it is not easy to free the police of political meddling. "A beginning has been made to bring accountability in the system," says lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who presented the case for the petitioners-Prakash Singh, a retired DGP of Uttar Pradesh and the NGO Common Cause. "This may well be the end of many aberrations that reduced the police to individual fiefdoms," says Singh.

KEEN ON IT: Manmohan and Patil are pushing for reforms

Mandarins in the North Block, after dragging their feet over the issue since 1981, have in the last two years got their act together at the behest of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who are eager about implementing the far-reaching changes. "We have already been seriously working towards police reforms. The court's directive has further strengthened our hands," says Home Secretary V.K. Duggal, "The Government would meet the deadline set by the apex court to implement the recommendations of the various police commissions."

The Home Ministry is keen on creating a federal agency that can investigate cases that have inter-state and international ramifications. Cases with cross-border implications like narcotics, trafficking of women and smuggling of arms are to be handled by what is to be called the Central Intelligence and Investigating Agency. The Central Government can directly ask it to investigate certain cases without the consent of the states.


All states are to constitute a State Security Commission (SSC), a Police Establishment Board and a Police Complaints Authority.
States must ensure that all officers, from the rank of an SP to DGP, hold office, wherever they are posted, for at least two years.

The UPSC will recommend three DGPs for each state out of which one will be selected by the SSC.

Similarly, there will be a National Security Commission to pick the heads of the BSF, CISF, CRPF and the ITBP.

The NHRC, Centre and Bureau of Police Research and Development will consider handing over cases of cross-border offences to the CBI.

Ironically, the court's order came exactly a fortnight after the Police Act Drafting Committee headed by Soli Sorabjee put out for debate the rough draft for a new law to replace the antiquated Indian Police Act of 1861. "The master of the police is the law of the land. Abiding by it is essential to restore confidence in the police," says Sorabjee. The draft Police Act has provisions to check pressure on subordinate officers from their superiors. Critics, however, argue that while it is a positive step, the work of a narrowly-conceived committee is well short of the comprehensive reforms needed.

At the same time, another special committee, constituted in December 2004, has identified 49 recommendations from the numerous reports of different police commissions to bring about drastic changes in the police and policing. It has confined itself to drawing up recommendations that are crucial for improvement in police functioning and the implementation of which would make an immediate impact on the reform process.

Among the shortlisted recommendations are those on which the Supreme Court has issued directives. The other recommendations include the creation of a federal police for internal security, modernisation of police forces, improvement in forensic science and infrastructure, tackling organised crime, tracking economic offences, amending the Identification of Prisoners Act and measures to improve accountability and efficiency at all levels of the police hierarchy.

"While only Orissa favoured the petition (on police reforms), others rejected it."

Duggal has discussed the recommendations with chief ministers to emphasise the urgency of reforms during inter-state council meetings, but the states have not shown any interest or alacrity in implementing them. "We have to make chief ministers understand that the police reforms will improve functioning in the long term and remove any apprehensions that they may have on the proposed changes," says Kamal Kumar, director, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad, and member secretary of the special recommendations committee.

For kickstarting the reform process, urgent action on the part of chief ministers is needed. But there is little as many of them feel that the reforms are intended to clip their wings. While the implementation may take time owing to fierce political opposition, at least a beginning has been made in transforming a decadent colonial police into a people-friendly modern force.

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