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Constitutional experts on police reforms

The battle for turf between the judiciary and the executive (sparked off by the Supreme Court's directives on police reforms) has intensified.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2007 01:52 IST

The battle for turf between the judiciary and the executive (sparked off by the Supreme Court's directives on police reforms) has intensified — with constitutional experts, intellectuals and academicians coming out largely in support of the stance adopted by the state governments.

In their affidavits submitted in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, a majority of the state governments sought time to implement the directives of the apex court; while states including Rajasthan, Haryana and Himachal indicated their resolve to enact separate model police acts.

"The Police department cannot alone be vested with powers of a fixed tenure (for DGPs) as such authority must extend to other departments as well, while service rules need to be reconciled within the existing framework of the police act and the CRPC." At least on these counts, the orders of the Supreme Court appear flawed, constitutional expert Rajeev Dhawan said.

Senior advocate KTS Tulsi said that — while reforming the criminal judicial system was of vital concern — it was not within the functions of the Supreme Court to legislate, as "it was still not the third chamber of the legislature".

Describing the existing state of affairs as "sad and unfortunate", former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash C Kashyap felt that constitutional niceties had become irrelevant in this situation. Had the state governments being discharging their responsibilities, the executive versus judiciary debate might not have arisen at all, he said.

Former Bihar Chief Secretary Kamala Prasad advocated the need for eliminating the "fear psychosis" that prevails in the minds of police officers because of excessive political interference, but felt that the issue needs to be thoroughly examined.

The matter is viewed by Inter-State Council Secretary Amitabh Pandey as an "apt case" for consideration of the council and feels that one of the state governments will refer the issue to the council in the course of time.

In general, the state governments have expressed reservations about the proposal for a fixed tenure for the DGPs — as also about suggestions that DGPs be selected from a panel of names forwarded by the UPSC. Apprehensions have also been expressed in respect of suggestions favouring the setting up of a complaints authority to investigate cases against police officials. Proposals favouring the bifurcation of crime and investigation wings of the police department have found general unanimity, but some states have articulated problems of resource crunch in implementing the plan.