Ending the practice of politicians posting and transferring police officers at will, and the constitution of a police complaints authority were the two major topics discussed at a meeting on police reforms in Mahim on Thursday, attended by about 100 citizens and activists.
At the meeting, former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro, 84, representing Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT), said, “Today the police are accountable to their political masters and not the public. Politicians want to post and transfer officers, because of which corruption has gone through the roof. There will be no relief until the power of transfer is taken away from politicians.”
Maja Daruwala of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) also said politicians’ control over the police force needs to be reduced. “The State Security Commission (SSC) was created for that reason (to end political interference) but its composition has been subverted and it is not being convened.”
Dolphy D’ Souza, convener of Police Reforms Watch, said that setting up a Police Complaints Authority was crucial. “The most important reform required is implementation of PCA so the common man can report inaction or wrong action of local police. Today if a policeman does not take action or takes the wrong action, a common man has to go to his higher-ups, who are part of the same system. So the PCA is required for fair action.”
Retired assistant commissioner of police Avinash Tupe said there was plenty of scope to improve the training of police and for including law graduates in the force.
After discussing several police-related issues, the activists took suggestions from citizens on how to improving policing in the city.
Many said they appreciated the eight-hour shifts for policemen initiated by police commissioner Datta Padsalgikar. Others said interactions between the people and their local police would help.
The Supreme Court had a decade ago ordered all states to set up independent bodies to look into complaints against the police. In October, HT reported that acting advocate general Rohit Deo told the Bombay high court that the first PCA in Maharashtra would start functioning soon. However, no time frame was set for its implementation, and there was no word on how many such authorities would be set up across the state and by when.
Once set up, you will be able to approach your local police complaints authority to register complaints against the police in cases of custodial torture, harassment or other types of abuse of power, as well as police inaction.