Police officers in Goa threatened innocent citizens with "death by encounter" for petitioning the state police complaints authority, which was set up to probe misconduct and excesses committed by police, alleges a report by a major human rights group.
Commonwealth Human Rights of India (CHRI) in its 2009 report titled 'Complaints authority: Police authority in action' has indicted the Goa government and the police for undermining the Goa State Police Complaints Authority (GSPCA), which was set up on the directions of the Supreme Court in 2006.
"Members (of the GSPCA) informed us that they rarely received complaints from the weaker sections of society because of lack of awareness and the fact that the police have made an active effort to discourage complaints from being filed.
"Indeed, it was reported that some of the complainants have been intimidated by the police who have threatened them with 'death by encounter'," stated the CHRI report.
The report quoted M.G. Naik, a former bureaucrat and a member of the authority, as saying that the GSPCA was being treated like an "unwanted child" of the state government.
The GSPCA was set up in 2007 headed by former high court judge Eurico Silva and was given binding powers. The state government was obliged to follow recommendations given by the authority and act accordingly, the report states.
But according to CHRI, the authority was virtually paralysed right from inception, thanks to non-cooperation from the state government.
"The clerical and secretarial staff was not paid by the government for the first 7-8 months of functioning. The chair who was anxious that staff did not leave, paid them from his own pocket. The staff has increased substantially since then," reads the CHRI report, which was compiled after the researchers interviewed members of the authority.
"The authority does not have funds to hire retired investigators from CID, Intelligence and Vigilance as provided in the government order. The chair feels investigators are necessary for the better functioning of the authority," it adds.
From April 2007 to January 2009, the GSPCA received nearly 100 complaints, most of which were about serious abuse of power by police officials, non-registration of First Information Reports (FIRs) and land grabs.