The state home department is working on a set of rules for police officers communicating with the media. The department has been prompted to lay down these rules following two incidences in the past two weeks, where police officers spoke to the media to clarify personal differences, resulting in controversies.
“We do not restrict the police from giving any information related to security and policing to the media. But giving information on personal differences is not acceptable. It gives a negative feel to the police institution,” said Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chandra Iyengar.
Two top officers — former Mumbai police commissioner Hasan Gafoor and Mumbai police crime branch chief Rakesh Maria — have found themselves embroiled in controversies after speaking to the media.
Last week, Hindustan Times reported that Home Minister R.R. Patil had issued a gag order on police officers preventing them from talking to the media over contentious issues.
Now, the home department plans to introduce stringent norms to ensure that police officials fall within the existing law. The Police Officers (Restriction of Rights) Act 1966 states: “No member of police force, without the express sanction of the Central Government or of the prescribed authority, can communicate with the press on what is in the bona fide discharge of his duty.”
The home department has already sought an explanation from Gafoor for his alleged remarks in a weekly newsmagazine accusing four senior police officers of dereliction of duty during the 26/11 terror attacks.
Maria has written to the home department to clarify allegations against him in the media by Vinita Kamte, slain IPS officer Ashok Kamte’s widow, in her book To The Last Bullet, where she criticised Maria for denying that he did not guide her husband to Cama hospital.