A policeman’s greed has triggered an institutional change in one of the largest metropolitan law enforcement agencies in the world.
A fortnight after a sub-inspector was arrested for demanding Rs. 20,000 bribe from a widow for her husband’s post-mortem examination, the Delhi Police are in the final stages of creating a fund meant exclusively to stop such ‘institutionalised extortion’.
From September, R6,000 from the Delhi Police commissioner’s ‘Discretionary Fund’ will be diverted to take care of expenses dealing with everything from transporting a body to a morgue to conducting a proper funeral.
According to police records, at least eight bodies have been found in the Capital every day since the beginning of this year till now.
“The idea is to prevent investigating officers from extorting the next of kin of crime victims in the name of necessary procedures such as post-mortem examinations and, sometimes, even investigation,” said an officer associated with the project.
“There have been cases where police personnel even ask a victim’s family for auto rickshaw fare to transport a corpse to a mortuary. The cremation of unidentified dead bodies — which have no claimants — are a different financial issue altogether.”
Investigating officers, who were forced to dig into their own pockets for such expenses till now, will henceforth be provided Rs. 6,000 ‘in advance’ by the police station concerned for expenses as and when they report a crime involving a dead body.
This will be replenished from the commissioner’s fund at the end of every month.
As far as the oft-quoted issue of ‘transportation charges’ is concerned, the Central Police Control Room will soon be in the possession of 11 hearse vans — meant to be despatched to each district and the crime branch as and when a dead body is found.
Between July 31 and August 3, a Delhi University professor was harassed for money for her husband’s post-mortem expenses by SI Avdesh Narayan Singh of the Karol Bagh police station. He was later arrested and is currently in judicial custody.