You might have considered it as a help during difficult times, but Delhi Police has now decided to ground all unauthorised police booths across the national capital.
The decision in this regard has been taken recently by Delhi Police Commissioner Y S Dadwal and conveyed to all the district in-charges.
"We have decided to dismantle all the illegal beat boxes from Delhi as per the order of Police Commissioner," Delhi Police Spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said.
Interestingly, in reply to an RTI query last year, the Delhi Police had disowned such establishments constructed on pavements and without proper electric connections, and have declined either sending their personnel there or supervising over these structures.
The beat boxes, numbering around 1,000 across the national capital, were built on pavements or in private land without fulfilling any formalities of the civic body, the RTI response had revealed.
"Almost all the beat boxes in Delhi are illegal. Only one or two at the inter-state borders may be authorised. I have seen that most of the beat boxes are being grounded. It is really a welcome step from the police," said RTI applicant Rakesh Agarwal.
The beat boxes were being misused by anti-social elements and were acting as extortion centres. These are illegal and Delhi Police had encroached upon the land for their own vested interest, he alleged.
The move was prompted after the Central Information Commission recently asked the Delhi Police to put information related to police booths or beat boxes in the national capital on its website.
"The General Administration Department of the Police Headquarters is directed to upload the complete information (about beat boxes) on its website preferably in the proforma devised by the appellant," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said in his order.
"Since they could not hide their mistake behind setting up these booths, police decided to dismantle them to save their face," Agarwal said.
The CIC order came while hearing a petition filed by Agarwal in which he sought information on the number of booths in each district, sanctioned strength, detail of areas they are built in and copy of permission taken from civic agencies to build them among others from Delhi Police.
Confirming the police chief's order, a senior police official said the Station House Officers (SHOs) have been asked to specifically locate and dismantle such booths.
"We are running a drive to check these and soon ground them. But, we ask people to reach police stations, not any chowkis or booths for any assistance," he said.