The gangrape has thrown up important issues of governance, police reform and safety of women. On governance, Delhi’s chief minister suggested not only the sacking of the police commissioner but also demanded her control over the police.
While the former was most regrettable, particularly because it got broadcast, the latter has some justification.
Chief ministers are responsible for law and order in their states and, therefore, exercise control over the police. Delhi, however, cannot be equated with other states.
It is the seat of the central government and it would be awkward if at any stage the Delhi and the central governments were to pull in different directions especially in matters of law and order.
VIP security is an essential component of policing and Delhi has a number of dignitaries, including a large contingent of diplomats.
Politicians have often been seen using their control over the police not so much to improve public order as to grind their own axe. Police officers apprehend that if the force was to be placed under the Delhi government, there would be too much of interference.
Ironically, while there is controversy over who should supervise the police, the fact is that neither the central nor the Delhi government has shown commitment to police reform.
The Supreme Court gave directions for structural changes in the police back in 2006. However, the two governments are yet to finalise the Delhi Police Bill.
We could take a limited or a long-term view on the pattern of policing in Delhi. The short-term view would be to devise an arrangement whereby the security of VIPs and vital installations is looked after by a special commissioner working under the Delhi CP but directly accountable to the Government of India.
The CP would also, for these matters only, be answerable to the Centre. Delhi police would, nevertheless, continue to be an integrated unit.
Routine law-and-order matters could be handed over to the Delhi government. It will, however, have to be ensured that the apex court orders are carried out in letter and spirit and the police are insulated from extraneous influences.
Taking a long-term view, policing in the NCR region as a whole calls for out-of-the-box thinking. A police district comprising Delhi, Faridabad, Gurgaon and Noida could be carved out.
It could be headed by a director-general of police assisted by at least four commissioners of police. Moving from Delhi to Noida now is like shifting from a car to a cycle rickshaw from the policing point of view. There is huge difference in the police of two regions in terms of resources and equipment.
An integrated police structure for the NCR would go a long way in improving policing over an area which has massive inter-regional mobility.
The writer is a retired police chief