POLICING IN J&K Need For Drastic Reforms
PROBLEMS IN POLICING ARISE FROM UNCERTAIN DELINEATION OF POWERS AND POLITICAL INTERFERENCE
CONCERN BY DR RAJA MUZAFFAR BHAT
The debate around police reform for years has revolved around on how to satisfactorily separate police functioning from undue and illegitimate political control and yet keep the police wholly accountable to civilian authority. The political executive argues that the police must be directly controlled by them and the police argue that the kind of supervision and control that is presently exercised skews the motivation and directions of policing and makes delivering high performance policing impossible.
This is where the key to better policing lies. It lies in defining precisely the powers and functions of political executive and police chief. In this model the political executive retains its supremacy of supervision and control and the police rather than being ‘independent’ or ‘autonomous’ (words that do not have good connotations in a democracy when referring to a coercive force) have ‘operational responsibility’. In other words, by making roles explicit in the statute itself one can achieve the best of solutions; which are on the one hand a civilian executive that lays down policy, provides the means to operationalise it and is able to hold the police chief accountable for good performance, and on the other a police establishment that has clear goals and tasks before it and is left alone to deliver the protection of life, property and liberty without being distracted by discretionary directions from various sources. Such a schema that conditions executive powers without diminishing it makes it even more potent.
A suggested model for defining this relationship would read:
“Responsibilities and independence of State Police Chief”
The supervision, direction and control of the police throughout the state shall be vested in an officer of the rank of Director General of Police (DGP) designated as the state police chief.
The DGP shall be responsible to the Minister (Home Minister) for
i) carrying out the functions and duties of the police;
ii) the general conduct of the police;
iii) the effective, efficient and economical management of the police;
iv) tendering advice to the Minister;
v) giving effect to any lawful ministerial directions.
The DGP shall not be not responsible to, and must act independently of, the Minister regarding:
i) the maintenance of order in relation to any individual or group of individuals; and
ii) the enforcement of the law in relation to any individual or group of individuals; and
iii) the investigation and prosecution of offences; and
iv) decisions about individual police officers.
The Minister may give the DGP directions on matters of government policy that relate to the:
i) prevention of crime;
ii) maintenance of public safety and public order;
iii) delivery of police services; and
iv) general areas of law enforcement.
No direction from the Minister to the DGP may have the effect of requiring the non-enforcement of a particular area of law
The Minister must not give directions to the DGP in relation to the following:
i) enforcement of the criminal law in particular cases and classes of cases
ii) matters that relate to an individual or group of individuals
iii) decisions on individual members of the police
If there is dispute between the Minister and the DGP in relation to any direction under this section, the Minister must, as soon as practicable after the dispute arises,
i) provide that direction to the DGP in writing; and
ii) publish a copy in the gazette; and
iii) present a copy to the legislature.
The law today of course prohibits any interference in police investigations from any quarter. Police manuals in no unclear terms lay down exactly how and by whom administrative powers will be exercised. But the law needs to be more precise. Many of the infirmities of policing arise from uncertain delineation of powers and from political overreach that has blurred boundaries, diluted authority and defused accountability. This has been recognized by all the committees and commissions looking at police reform and by the Supreme Court as well. This must be remedied.
There is no merit in rehashing the problems. The solutions as well have laid down, but from the eight reports of the National Police Commission, to the reports of the multiple committees that have deliberated endlessly; to the MHA’s own initiative of drawing up a brand new Model Police Bill to the Supreme Court’s final orders on reform – all have gathered only dust. In 2006 as a culmination to all the committee and commission recommendations the Supreme Court laid out a road map for reform. Its order sought to address the extreme politicization of the police, the complete lack of accountability and the dismal levels of un-professionalism. It’s been five years since the judgment. Every state government has shunned compliance. For most states policing continues – business as usual’. Jammu and Kashmir falls within those states that have chosen to ignore most of the Court’s directives under the garb of security situation of the state. It drafted a new Police Act in complete secrecy without holding any public consultations or making the new police draft bill public, thus keeping the public out of the legislative process. The secrecy is a cause for suspicion that the law will allow greater interference in policing, enhance powers and reduce accountability.
The Supreme Court’s directives have provided a once in a generation opportunity and impetus for states to institute a legislative framework that can alleviate if not cure the ills afflicting Indian policing today. The “cure” however must not become worse than the disease, for the consequences of a bad Law are plain to see. It is hoped that the Chief Minister who is also Home Minister of J&K will fulfill his promise of holding public consultations with civil society, media and other stake holders in J&K before the new police bill is introduced in the up coming session of the state legislature and it must be ensured that the draft police bill is made public by the Home Department or GAD like it was done few years back when the Right to Information (RTI) draft bill was made public by the Government.
Author is Convener J&K RTI Movement and associated with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastupdate on : Thu, 1 Dec 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 1 Dec 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 2 Dec 2011 00:00:00 IST
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