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Too little, too late: Former IPS officers

Posted July 5th, 2018, 09:57 AM IST

Too little, too late: Former IPS officers

Bengaluru: The Supreme Court directions to states and Union Territories on police reforms, to not appoint any police officer as acting Director General of Police (DGP), though have been welcomed as a “pious dictat” by senior and retired Indian Police Service officers in Karnataka, they say it’s too little, too late and reforms don’t percolate down because of lack of political will.

“The Supreme Court had already given directions on police reforms, which included the appointment and tenure of the DG&IGP in 2006. Some states have been circumventing the directions to suit their convenience. Yesterday’s order is more for these states, to either come up with their own rules on the matter or follow the court directions,” said former director general and inspector general of police Ajai Singh.

Dr Singh’s predecessor and former DG&IGP R. Srikumar said that though the apex court’s direction was in good faith, it was too little, too late. “The former director general of police, Uttar Pradesh, Prakash Singh, had taken the initiative for police reforms in 1996, when he had filed the first public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court. It took 10 years for the court to give a slew of directions in 2006 on seven directives to achieve functional autonomy to the police and enhanced police accountability. The directives included the appointment of the DGP through merit-based transparent process and securing a minimum tenure of two years, ensuring and protecting minimum tenure of two years of other police officers, who are on operational duties, separating investigation and law and order functions of the police, setting up of a State Security Commission (SSC) to ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police; setting up a Police Establishment Board (PEB) to decide on transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters of police officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and recommend the same for officers above the rank of DSP, setting up Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at state and district level to inquire into public complaints against police officers in cases of serious misconduct, setting up of a National Security Commission (NSC) at the Centre to prepare a panel for selection and placement of chiefs of the Central Police Organisations with a minimum tenure of two years. After 12 years, the apex court has modified its 2006 order on one of its directives. The entire journey of police reforms has taken 22 years and yet the reforms have not percolated down. The apex court in 2013 gave directions making it mandatory for the police to file an FIR in a cognisable offence under Section 154 of the CrPC in Lalita Kumari vs. Union of India. Why has there been no direction to the police for not registering an FIR inthe case of the suicide of a former chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh Kalikho Pul, who had left behind a 60-page signed suicide note naming some VIPs, including some from the judiciary? Police have to act as agents of law and not as agents of government,” said Mr Sri Kumar.

Another retired police chief who didn’t wish to be named said that the police commission submitted eight reports between 1979 and 1981, recommending wide ranging reforms in the police administration in the country. “While these reports gathered dust, several other committees were appointed, whose reports were not acted upon. Mr Prakash Singh’s PIL in the Supreme Court on September 22, 2006 directed the state and central government, that its orders in respect of seven recommendations shall be implemented. After12 years of these orders, what’s the state of affairs? State and central governments have vied with each other to successfully sabotage and negate the SC directives and commit contempt with impunity, while the SC was a mute spectator to its own orders being trampled under their feet. Not a single state has created the State Security Commission in letter and spirit. Police administration continues to be under the stranglehold of the political executive. Regarding the appointment of the DGP (Head of Police Force), there are examples galore of the political executive sabotaging this order of SC. Gujarat functioned with in-charge DGs for years. The role of the UPSC in the selection of DGs was often not above board. Since transfer of police officers is a flourishing industry, security of tenure is a sham. Karnataka amended the KP Act fixing tenure of one year for all executive posts creating a revolving gate for transfers and postings. There has been no attempt to separate investigation and law and order. This impractical but desirable directive of the SC cannot be attempted unless the police to population ratio is increased from the existing 150 to 300 across the country. Most states have created the PEBs on paper to draw wool over the eyes of SC, but political leaders call the shots in postings from PCs to the DGs,” he said.

Mr Prakash Singh, the crusader cop, who has kept up with the fight, told Deccan Chronicle that it’s been 22 years since he had filed the first PIL on police reforms. “The directives need to be followed in letter and spirit. States like Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Gujarat among others have been appointing acting DGPs in utter disregard of the apex court order. It’s been a long battle to correct the aberrations. The Supreme Court directive on appointment and tenure of the DGP is a very small step in that direction,” said Mr Singh.

SC directive secures Neelamani's place as DG&IGP

The Supreme Court Tuesday directive to states and Union Territories on police reforms, to not appoint any police officer as acting Director General of Police (DGP) and secure a minimum tenure of two years, has set to rest any speculation on the change of guard of police force in Karnataka.

The incumbent DG&IGP, Neelamani N. Raju, is not only the senior-most IPS officer (1983 batch), she also has the benefit of more than two years of tenure. She was appointed as head of police force in November 2017 and will demit office in January 2020 on superannuation. There was some speculative news that the new coalition government headed by the JD(S) may reportedly replace Ms Raju with DGP, Karnataka State Police Housing Corporation, H.C. Kishore Chandra, who is the second senior-most IPS officer in the state and is known to be close to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and his father and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda.

“With the SC directive, the state government would like to maintain the status quo and not wrongly draw the attention of the apex court,” said an officer on condition of anonymity.