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Needed: People’s police not ruler’s

india Updated: Jan 05, 2011 15:47 IST
Prakash Singh
Prakash Singh
Hindustan Times
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Uttar Pradesh police is the largest single police unit in the world. Its efficiency and performance impinge directly on the safety, welfare and happiness of more than 160 million people living in the Gangetic belt. And yet, tragically, the state police is among the worst performing police forces of the country.

A number of factors have contributed to its decline. Foremost has been its political exploitation by the parties in power, particularly during the last about ten years. The ruling parties have used the police to further their political ends and build their own fortunes. The bureaucracy has also been extremely unimaginative and cussed. Police leadership which succumbed to pressures from the top will also have to share the blame.

Be that as it may, the fact remains that police is in a sorry state and needs a complete overhaul. The Supreme Court had mandated certain reforms in police organisation and structure in 2006. The State Government unfortunately took the stand that the Apex Court directions would “impinge upon the federal structure of the Constitution and undermine its basic structure”. There has been since then some improvement, but the state remains the worst defaulter in implementing the directions of the Apex Court. The Supreme Court is going to question its response on January 10. Transfer of gazetted officers in the State has been a scandal. There are instances of officers being transferred within 24 hours, within three days and within one week. No wonder, officers have stopped taking any long term interest in their work.

Senior officers’ morale is low on several counts. One major factor has been the humiliation of officers of the rank of DIG who have been posted as in-charge of the bigger districts. The expectation was that this was a prelude to the metropolitan cities being placed under Commissioners of Police. That, however, has not happened. The net result is that an officer of the rank of DIG has been devalued to the rank of Superintendent of Police. The Government must implement the Commissionerate scheme. The neighbouring states have already stolen a march over UP in this regard. Haryana and Punjab have introduced the scheme. Rajasthan has introduced it with effect from January 1 this year in the cities of Jaipur and Jodhpur. Must UP remain a laggard state?

At the non-gazetted level, there is considerable frustration over sub-inspectors not being promoted to the level of inspectors. Promotions have remained frozen for the last several years. The government must remove the legal/ administrative obstacles to the process. At the level of constables, their training is going to present a formidable problem to the state government. About 35,000 constables were recently recruited and they have to be put through training. The existing training centres can absorb only 5000; infrastructure for the remaining recruits will have to be created. The State CID, Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Organisations have lost their credibility. Recommendations to rejuvenate them were made by a committee constituted by the Allahabad High Court; the government would do well to implement those recommendations.

There is huge misuse of police manpower in the state. A sordid aspect of it is the attachment of armed policemen with all kinds of persons and the most inconsequential politicians. These attachments have become a status symbol. The arrangement erodes the discipline of the force and conveys a very wrong message to the public in general. This unauthorised diversion of manpower must be drastically cut down. The government must also crack down on the corrupt officers. There are officers who have developed a nexus with criminals, there are officers who have built fortunes. They must be sacked. Only a government maintaining good law and order will have the support of the people.

Supreme Court directions

The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment on Sept 22, 2006, ordered the setting up of three institutions at the state level with a view to insulating the police from extraneous influences, giving it functional autonomy and ensuring its accountability. These institutions are:

State Security Commission—which would lay down the broad policies and give directions for the performance of the preventive tasks and service oriented functions of the police;

Police Establishment Board—comprising the director general of police and four other senior officers of the Department which shall decide all transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and make appropriate recommendations regarding the postings and transfers of officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above to the State Government.

Police Complaints Authority—at the district and state levels with a view to inquiring into allegations of serious misconduct by the police personnel.

Besides, the apex court ordered that the Director General of Police shall be selected by the state government from amongst the three senior-most officers of the Department who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the UPSC, and that he shall have a prescribed minimum tenure of two years. Police officers on operational duties in the field like the IG Zone. DIG Range, SP i/c District and SHO i/c Police Station would also have a minimum tenure of two years.

The Court also ordered the separation of investigating police from the law and order police to ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people.

The Union Government was also asked to set up a National Security Commission for the selection and placement of heads of Central Police Organisations, upgrading the effectiveness of these forces and improving the service conditions of its personnel.

The aforesaid orders were to be implemented by the end of 2006. The time limit was, at the next hearing on January 11, 2007, extended till March 31, 2007.

The Supreme Court orders, if sincerely implemented, would have far reaching implications. They would change the working philosophy of the police. The Ruler’s Police would be transformed into People’s Police. The reforms, it needs to be understood, are not for the glory of the police - they are to give better security and protection to the people of the country, uphold their human rights and generally improve governance.

Ten states have done it

Ten states have satisfactorily complied with the directions of the SC. These include: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand and Goa. The other states, including UP, are however dragging their feet in the matter. Some states like Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka and Kerala have passed Bills/Acts with a view to circumventing the implementation of SC’s directions.

What ails UP Police

*Political stranglehold

*Frequency of transfers

*Inadequate promotions

*Poor training facilities

*Force does not get respect/recognition

*Bureaucracy rides roughshod

Five things that can be done in UP in 2011 on reforms

*Reconstitute the State Security Commission in such a way that it inspires confidence

*Selection of DGP should be from the panel drawn up by UPSC

*Officers on operational assignments should have a minimum tenure of two years

*Promotion of SIs to Inspectors and PPS officers to IPS should be expedited

*Infra-structure at police stations and Housing for subordinate ranks must improve

The doables

Retired director general of police Shri Ram Arun suggests 11 basic things which could improve the police image to an extent

1. Police behaviour with public on road, as rude behaviour by men in khaki is easily spotted by everyone and maligns image of the force

2. Properly and neatly dressed up cop gives good impression to others

3. Proper focus on physical fitness and living conditions of the police personnel

4. Immediate action on the persons approaching them in urgency

5. Proper registration of FIRs and complaints especially of the weaker section of the society without keeping in mind that it would increase the crime graph

6. senior police officials and bureaucrats should not analyse law and order situation on behalf of number of FIR’s and complaint registered in a city

7. Cops should use decent language while interrogating woman, children and other weak section of the society

8. Proper handling of the dead bodies and evidences related to crime cases

9. Public complaints disposal on routine basis

10. Compliance of the court orders properly and immediately

11. Lower rung cops should be given at least two promotions to keep them motivated towards their jobs. It could be done easily, as it hardly makes any difference in their salary structure. In present situation, their salary grades get updated but promotion is not provided which frustrates them. It comes out while dealing public and complainants.

(Author Prakash Singh has been a very distinguished police officer of the country with an excellent track record for combating terrorism in the most turbulent parts of the country. Singh is also the architect of Police Reforms in the country.)