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Implementing HC ordered police reforms in Uttarakhand an uphill task

Government will have to recruit at least 5,000 more personnel and ensure housing facility for 82% of force

dehradun Updated: May 18, 2018 22:24 IST
Kalyan Das
Kalyan Das
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Police reform,Uttarakhand high court,Uttarakhand news
The High Court on May 15 had told state government to ensure that police personnel did not work for more than eight hours at a stretch and those doing arduous duties were paid extra salary.(HT File)

For a state that had to take a loan to pay salary to its staff, Uttarakhand will have to bend, roll, and stretch all its resources if it is willing to implement the reforms in police department as has been ordered by the Nainital High Court.

In a landmark judgment, the High Court on May 15, told state government to ensure that police personnel did not work for more than eight hours at a stretch and those doing arduous duties were paid extra salary. The court also directed the state government to launch a housing scheme for the police personnel and provide recreational facilities like gym and swimming pool at police stations as well at police housing colonies.

The police department has taken the order with a pinch of salt. The directives if — and that’s a big if — implemented, they say, will bring about a qualitative sea change in the working of the department. The question, however, is how do they go about implementing the HC order.

Senior police officials said that the state government would need to remove some major hindrances before the HC order could be implemented. The biggest hindrance, they said is the availability of funds.

“Ever since the HC passed order on May 15, several rounds of talks and discussions have been held within the department on its implementation and the obstructions it would face,” a senior official posted at the state police headquarters and familiar with the development said.

The official, who asked not to be named in print, said, among the reforms, one is providing better housing facilities to the department’s personnel. “At present only about 18% of the total force has been provided housing facility by the department. The remaining 82% are given housing allowance. If all the remaining force were to be granted government accommodation, one can well imagine the amount of money the department would need to do it,” he said.

Also, if the government intends to implement another key reform suggested by the high court — ensuring that personnel work in shifts and not more than eight hours at a stretch — the department would have to recruit more people.

“The total sanctioned strength of the state police is 27,000. At present, it is short by about 1,000. If the department limits the duty hours to eight hours, then it would have to hire at least 5,000 more personnel to ensure that enough force is available at any given time to maintain the law and order,” the official said,

The duty hours cannot be limited to eight hours during important days and festivals. “However it can be done on normal working days as it will enable the personnel, especially the ones deputed in the field, to spend more time with their families,” he added.

Additional director general of police, Law & Order, Ashok Kumar, meanwhile, said that the department will soon have a meeting with the government to discuss the high court order.

“We are studying the order. We will soon have a meeting with the government officials to discuss the same with them and find ways to implement the directives,” said Kumar.

While passing the order, a division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sharad Kumar Sharma also directed the government to create within three months a corpus for the welfare of the police personnel and them at least three promotions in their career. It suggested appointing a psychiatrist in each district to check upon the mental health of the personnel. It also suggested a medical examination of all police personnel every three months to assess their fitness.

First Published: May 18, 2018 22:24 IST