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Insulates force from politicians

india Updated: Sep 23, 2006 01:32 IST

Sweeping police reforms by Dec 31, university elections set right too

THE SUPREME Court on Friday ordered sweeping reforms in the country's police administration to keep the force above political interference and corruption.

The reforms include a minimum fixed tenure for DGPs, IGPs and other senior officers, the setting up of state security commissions, the separation of investigation from law and order, and the setting up of a police establishment board to decide transfers, postings and promotions.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal set December 31 as the deadline for implementation of the directions and asked the central and state governments to file compliance affidavits by January 3 next year. The order came on a public interest petition filed by former Uttar Pradesh DGP Prakash Singh and former CBI joint director N.K. Singh 10 years ago.

Justifying the overhaul, the court said there had been no comprehensive review of the police system after Independence. Although the National Police Commission in 1977 had recommended changes, none were implemented.

The court directed the states to constitute a state security commission -- to be headed by the chief minister or the home minister -- to ensure that the state government does not exercise influence on the state police. The DGP would be its ex-officio secretary. "The other members of the commission shall be chosen in such a manner that it is able to function independent of government control," the court said.

On the tenure of senior police officers, the court said a DGP should have a minimum fixed tenure of two years. But the state government in consultation with the state security commission can remove him if he is convicted, incapacitated or if he breaks the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules.

The court recommended the same tenure and checks for IGPs, SPs and other officers. It also directed setting up of a National Security Commission to prepare a panel of officers from among whom the chiefs of central forces will be selected. They too will have a fixed tenure.

Former top officers welcomed the reforms and said honest policemen will now get the stability they required. Prakash Singh told HT: "The SC directives will make a world of difference if a police officer wants to do a good job." It puts in place a mechanism that will give an honest officer enough strength to stand straight in face of political pressure. Former CISF director-general K.M. Singh said, "It gives honest officers the stability they and their families need."