Ideally, as the force policing the national capital, the Delhi Police should have been the model force for every other state when it came to reforms. Had the reforms been implemented by the Union home ministry, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal would have had no reasons to hit the streets today since he would have been part of the command and the control structure of the Delhi Police.
But laxity on part of the home ministry has ensured that Delhi Police is one of the worst defaulters when it came to implementing the Supreme Court’s September 2006 judgment on police reforms. It has failed to pass a Delhi Police Bill of 1978 and the State Security Commission - that is meant to oversee police functioning - has barely met five times since 2012. Ironically, the current L-G of Delhi, Najeeb Jung, was a member of the State Security Commission.
The Police Bill to replace the archaic Delhi Police Bill of 1978 is stuck in the Union ministry of home affairs for the last three years while state security commission, set up in 2012 as per the SC judgment, has rarely held a meeting. Besides, the capital’s police has no accountability to the people they serve, since they report to the Union home ministry.
“Despite all the failures of the Delhi police, I have never seen people agitate outside the Union home ministry,” former director general of police Prakash Singh told HT. Singh’s role in trying to bring in police reforms is seminal since he petitioned the Apex court in 1996. Ten years later, the SC’s judgment began to force states across the country to usher in a slew of reforms.
“As the force for the national capital, the Union home ministry should have taken the lead. But it has become one of the worst laggards in implementing the Court’s order,” Singh said. The proposed Police Bill for reforming Delhi Police did see a considerable push during the tenure of Union home secretary GK Pillai. He held several rounds of discussions with Singh and his co-petitioner in the Supreme Court, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).
“But as soon as Pillai retired, the matter went into cold storage,” Maja Daruwala, the director of CHRI, told HT.
Besides a new Police Act, the SC’s reforms had also ordered the setting up of a State Security Commission to look after the functioning of the Delhi Police. The commission comprised the Lieutenant Governor, the Delhi chief minister, the leader of the Opposition and five independent members and bureaucrats. The Commission was set up in 2012, but has barely met five times since then. Jung was an independent member till he took over as the L-G.