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Soon state will have independent body for complaints against police

Acting advocate general Rohit Deo last week informed the Bombay high court that the first SPCA in Maharashtra will start functioning soon

mumbai Updated: Oct 29, 2016 00:11 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Supreme Court
The Supreme Court in September 2006 ordered the formation of such a body.(HT File Photo)

A decade after the Supreme Court ordered all states to set up independent bodies to look into complaints against the police, the first such authority is set to be launched in Maharashtra. Once set up, you will be able to approach the State Police Complaints Authority to register complaints against the police in cases of custodial torture, harassment or other types of abuse of power.

Acting advocate general Rohit Deo last week informed the Bombay high court that the first SPCA in Maharashtra will start functioning soon. He told the division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice PD Naik that the state government has appointed the authority under the chairmanship of Justice AV Potdar, a retired high court judge. It will also include retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officers RR Sonsukare and PK Jain; and retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Ramrao and Umakant Mitkar as members. The additional director general of police (establishment) will act as member-secretary of the authority.

Mitkar was included as a person of eminence from civil society only after the high court insisted that the authority have a representative for civil society.

The state government has set aside 5,980-sq-ft at MTNL Building in Mumbai for the authority, which will function as a full-time body, and will appoint 25 staff members.

As for regional authorities, the government told the high court that spaces have been identified for offices of the divisional complaint authority at Nasik, Nagpur and Aurangabad and proposals to appoint chairpersons and members of the regional authorities have been submitted to the government.

For the three more divisional authorities, at Navi Mumbai (for Konkan region), Amravati and Pune, divisional commissioners have been told to identify office space quickly.

The acting advocate general was responding to a petition filed by Limbadri Vithal Bommer, which stated that though he had lodged a complaint with a deputy commissioner of police against police personnel at Wadala TT police station, no action was taken. He has also asked the court to direct the state government to set up independent police complaints authorities as ordered by the Supreme Court in September 2006.

Taking note of the inordinate delay in constituting the authorities, the court said in an earlier order that despite the directions of the Supreme Court and statutory provisions in the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, “it is unfortunate that the state of Maharashtra failed to constitute a State Police Complaints Authority and Divisional Police Complaints Authorities”.