Coming down heavily on state police chiefs for arbitrarily transferring senior officers, Home Minister P Chidambaram said on Monday that many police personnel had been reduced to footballs, being kicked from one post to the other.
"It is a matter of deep regret that many police officers have been reduced to a football, to be kicked in here and there, from one post to another, without regard to the damage done to the job as well as the officer," Chidambaram said in his opening remarks at the three-day conference of state police chiefs.
State governments also drew flak from Chidambaram for their callous mindset towards security issues, reflected in the non-transparent recruitment procedures and ad-hoc transfer of police officers.
"I ask you to search your hearts and answer the question, what is the average length of tenure of a district superintendent of police? What is the average length of tenure of a station house officer? Why do you remain silent when arbitrary postings and transfers are made by the state government," Chidambaram queried.
State governments, he said, had been unwilling to revamp their recruitment procedure to make it time bound and increase transparency.
"Is it not your duty, as the head of the state police, to raise your voice not only on behalf of your officers but also on behalf of the people that you are duty bound to protect? As one famous judge said, 'When there is a duty to speak, silence is culpable'."
Another area of concern Chidambaram highlighted was the issue of funds. Urging state governments to grant "adequate funds" to the police, he said states generally give residual money, after allocation for other schemes, to the police.
"Given the constitutional responsibility, state governments must provide adequate funds for the state police. In fact, security of the state must be the first charge on the state exchequer. However, I find that many states take the exact opposite route and allot only the residue -- after providing for other plan and non-plan schemes -- to the head of 'police'."