Contemplate police reforms
The recent spate of civilian killings at the hands of police and paramilitary forces, and the government’s dilemma in fixing the responsibility about such incidents point to the pressing need for police reforms in Jammu & Kashmir. After years of dilly dallying, police reforms are becoming a reality in India today – courtesy its Supreme Court's landmark judgements to ensure replacement of the current Police Act and that the recommendations of various commissions and committees having been created since 1970s are implemented. Even as most of the States in India are in the process of consideration and implementation, J&K's aversion to adopt these reforms stands questioned. Ours is a State which needs police reforms the most, primarily because there are two extraordinary situations. J&K's policing system is not only carrying along all the baggage of the British and Dogra reigns, it is also living with the extra-constitutional laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Disturbed Areas Act and a serious Official Secrets Act. Police as an organisation in J&K, its role, police-public relations, political interference with its work, misuse of police power and police accountability and performance evaluation are such areas where reforms cannot be put on shelf any more.
J&K's policing system continues to be highly influenced by the colonial police law passed in India, 1861. As such it becomes all the more important for us to initiate meaningful reforms. Lack of transparency in the transactions of the police in J&K, often facilitated by the extra constitutional laws and colonial policing practices, is a serious problem. There is a huge scope for transparency even as the 'sensitive' areas are guarded from undue 'exposure'. The Model Police Act has called for transparency in all police activities except for the areas of operations, intelligence that is used to plan and conduct investigations, privacy of the individual citizen and judicial requirements. There is nothing wrong in making these exceptions in J&K's context as well.
It has been stressed in Model Police Act that police performance should not be evaluated primarily on the basis of crime statistics or number of cases solved. In J&K, police officials' performance continues to be rated on the basis of the number of 'militants' killed, arms and ammunition recovered, information sought about people indulging in "anti national activities" and so on. This system of performance evaluation and rewarding has developed a kind of jungle law within the police in J&K State. One of the areas of concern which is being addressed in rest of India is the murky system of promotions and transfers of police officers. The Model Police Act has recommended that before promotion to the rank of Superintendent of Police, Deputy Inspector General of Police or Inspector General of Police, all India Police Service officers should be required to undertake a pre-promotion course, followed by an examination and an objective selection process. This procedure needs to be adopted in both IPS and KPS cadres in J&K and would go a long way in eliminating undue political interference in police. It has been recognised that the threat of transfer or suspension is the most potent weapon in the hands of the politicians to bend the police to their will. All this has resulted in serious erosion of rule of law and loss of police credibility as a professional organisation.
The serious dearth of women police officers and police stations in J&K also needs immediate action. The way male police have been dealing with women filing complaints in police stations and the manner male police have been treating peaceful women protests on the streets cannot by any stretch of imagination be a part of a democratic set up. Time has come for us to have a State Security Commission and a State Police Commission, setting up of Complaint Cells at district and State levels and create systems of checks and balances to make this institution people-friendly. Time has come for civil society to put their act together for making police reforms possible in J&K.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Jun 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Jun 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jun 2010 00:00:00 IST
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