Why Uttarakhand HC wants 8-hour shift for police

The high court in its recent landmark order on police reforms has pointed out, citing various reports, that Uttarakhand was among the states where no shift system was being followed

dehradun Updated: May 20, 2018 21:49 IST
Neeraj Santoshi
Neeraj Santoshi
Hindustan Times, Nainital
Photo filed by Dehradun desk:-Uttarakhand High Court at Nainital. HT Photo

The high court in its recent landmark order on police reforms has pointed out, citing various reports, that Uttarakhand was among the states where no shift system was being followed.

It said barring a few exceptions, shift system in police station functioning was not formally in vogue in most jurisdictions in the country. But in many states, informal shift systems of different patterns have been introduced and the same were being followed on an ad hoc and off and on basis like in case of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya, Punjab and Delhi.

However, it pointed out that in most cases, shift system is not strictly adhered to, due to manpower shortage and heavy workload. An additional 61% of the present sanctioned strength of police personnel was needed for introducing shift system.

The order gives a detailed list of reasons why shift system needs to be introduced while citing reports of various committees about police working conditions in various states and countries and how shift system can help police, improve their morale, their health and so on.

The HC, in the order, emphasised that the Uttarakhand government itself in 2012 had constituted a one-member State Police Reforms Commission, which in its recommendations had said it should be ensured that police get proper rest, police administration should be liberal in granting leaves by applying rotational system.

The State Police Reforms Commission had also said an endeavour should be made to keep the morale of the police force high to enable them to discharge their duties.

The court maintained that the Bureau of Police Research and Development, had also sponsored “National Requirement of Manpower for 8-Hour Shifts in Police Stations of India” with the objectives that include identification of legal provisions for 8 hours working shift, an assessment of the present status as to the actual number of hours of duty being performed by police personnel in different regions/areas, identification of functions that can be outsourced and estimation of extra manpower needed for introduction of 8 hours shifts .

On May 15, the HC directed the state government to ensure police personnel do not work for more than eight hours at a stretch, observing that “the long duty hour takes a toll on the morale, motivation and self-esteem of staff….they do not get sufficient rest leading to psychological problems”.

The court also directed the government to constitute Special Selection Board for recruitment of police personnel for timely filling up the vacancies.

A senior police officer, wishing not to named, said the implementation of the court direction will be a major challenge within the present available manpower and resources.

“A police station, once it is opened, can never be closed. It has to function 24X7. And as such we need police there round the clock,” he said.

GS Martoliya, inspector general of police (headquarter/personnel), said they have started to study the duty pattern of the police in different parts of the state to see how it can be managed to introduce 8-hour shifts.

“After this study, we will be able to have a better estimation of the number of additional manpower we require for implementing the court order.

“Right now our sanctioned strength is 27,000. I think we will need around 2,000 to 3,000 additional manpower to implement the court directions. We are also studying the exhaustive court order and references about such a matter in other states,” he said.

First Published: May 20, 2018 21:49 IST