Instant police reform Need Of The Hour
Police is an institution created by law. For centuries in the UK, police is a professional institution, while during British rule police in India was maintained as “caged parrot” to subjugate masses, suppress democratic movements. Though India is free, police continues more or less with the same colonial mindset which was moulded to save the interest of the high and mighty. In contrast in the UK, police was trained to help citizens and behave like the servant and guardian of general public. Universally accepted function of police is to detect and punish offenders and protect public tranquillity. Law enforcement is an important part of government. Police and courts complement each other to enforce law.
In a civilised society particularly in a democracy, police is a social servant as its object is not only to prevent crime and punish criminals but also to help citizens in various ways ,from the stage of child to the stage of old. In India we have not yet changed many police rules which were enforced by British which smell of colonial mindset. Unfortunately we saw during the Emergency police behaving like a money-making and exploiting organisation which arrested about one lakh citizens in pursuance to authoritarian policy. Many arrested persons were innocent and had nothing to do with politics. In some cases people who were doing business and failed to pay bribe were also booked under one pretext or other and were detained in jail as emergency offenders. The SAHA Commission which enquired into Emergency excesses in its reports had observed: “ However, a large number of officers, District Magistrates ex-offico, obediently carried out the instructions maintaining from politicians and administrative heads issued on personal and political considerations.” With rejection of Emergency regime in 1977 general elections things changed to some extent, but politicisation of police by parties controlling the government continues as usual due to weak laws, as civil society has no will power to force government to change the system. It is the common feeling that police is not friendly to general public and public too are not sympathetic to police as a result there is a peculiar situation in India and this trend needs to be addressed to create a conducive police-public friendly environment.
It is high time to make an over hauling in the police. Investigation and law and order since both are separate functions needing separate skills and strategies. As such law and order and investigation must be manned by separate wings headed by senior officers of DG rank. Both must be kept under a three member commission system reporting directly to home secretary. The post of Home Secretary should be appointed by Governor in case of state and president in case of federal government for a fixed term of three years from among the incumbents of all India service. This can reverse the trend of partisan role of police which eventually would free it from political clutches. Presently, law and order, VIP duty, crime detection together are left to local police. The strength of police is in half in their numbers from requirement in every police station out of which a bulk of force is dedicated to VIP duties leaving few to chase after crime and criminals making the whole objective of police redundant. This is one of the reasons for rising work pressure on police.
Due to lack of accountability police actions are vitiated by whim and corruption. In absence of a strong code of conduct whimsical action by police creates a natural temptation for ordinary police inspector to think that he not the court is the best judge of his action and hence follows colonial methods to subjugate victim citizens forcing the citizen to pay bribe or face the music of jail. In many cases if the victim is a poor and helpless person police accepts counter cases to weaken and intimidate the victims. The citizen knows that if he does not pay nobody would hear his grievance. If he is booked falsely, the case , would linger for years to get justice, Such way makes a citizen nervous and impairs his will to fight against injustice. There should be a constant monitoring of policing by using electronic medias, help centres for effective servicing and keeping the police in alert condition.
The bulk of police dishonesty is connected to illicit liquor trade and transport. The liquor mafia has an all India presence. In AP, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Odisha roughly about 10 thousand breweries exist where hooch is produced. Very rich and influential people operate production centres through their paid henchmen and prospective raids by police and excise on their hides only catches the henchmen and not real owners. Any complaint by citizens against their activities are turned down and in return the complainant citizen is booked under some pretext. Few months ago the Odisha vigilance arrested one Inspector of a prominent city of Odisha for demanding to raise monthly quota which had drawn the headlines of the newspapers. During elections liquor shops are claimed to be closed but hooch is available in barrels for free distribution. Another instance that troubles civil society is registration of genuine FIRs .If the victim of a crime is poor and perpetuator is rich there is rise of counter cases being forced on victims in order to force him to come to terms. Such inhuman acts need to be checked. Perjury and registration of false cases need to be arrested by framing strong law. Trial of serious cases should be done by jury system. In each district there should be a committee consisting SP Dist. Judge, and one retired civil servant to look into cases false cases and perjury. Every complaint of citizens against police needs to be addressed to make the police machinery accountable.
The Supreme Court’s recent decision on compulsory registration of FIRs would check age-old maladies in addressing crime. As human-right violation cases are rampant and constitutional institutions are beyond the reach of common people due to poverty and illiteracy it should be considered to designate every district court as human right court to try human right violations. Crime against women is on rise which needs to be addressed. The country has so many laws to deal with crimes against women which need to be incorporated into a comprehensive single legislation for easy reference and follow up. Mindset and weakness of system will automatically get changed, if law enforcers are made accountable and are freed from political and bureaucratic influence. A comprehensive reorganisation of police system is the urgent need in which:
(1) There should be a code of conduct for policemen to follow in their day-to-day works.
(2) There should be women advisors for each district police for review and scrutinise women-related cases.
(3) Strength of CID officials should be increased to four-fold to keep a vigilant eye on law enforcement .In this connection the UAE model can be looked into.
(4) Police reform measures as outlined in Prakash Singh Case need to be implemented at once.
(5) Victims of sexual harassment, human right victims must be given free legal aid, and be compensated by state as civil administration is constitutionally mandated to take care of citizens security and human rights.
By Ram Chandra Panda