JK’s ‘self-styled’ way of deploying cops on duty
SC Guidelines On Tenure, Transfers Seldom Followed
Srinagar, Sep 20: Jammu and Kashmir Government is still to comply with a directive on placement and transfer of police officers on operational duty as delineated in the Supreme Court guidelines on police reforms.
While the apex court has clearly stated that an officer on operational duty “shall have a prescribed minimum tenure of two years unless it is found necessary to remove him/her”, it is argued in police circles that the “placement of officers in the state, and their transfer, is taking place at the will of ruling political class.”
This, according to officers, is making them feel that the “sword of anytime transfer” is hanging over them which ultimately hampers the understanding of their jurisdictions, knowledge about the people and communities they are serving, interpretation of crime trends, and progressively developing policing strategy—something which forms the essence of policing.
According to the third Supreme Court directive on police reforms, delineated in Prakash Singh case of 2006, the police officers on operational duties in the field like the Inspector General of Police [in-charge Zone], Deputy Inspector General of Police [in-charge Range], Superintendent of Police [in-charge district] and Station House Officer [in-charge of a Police Station] shall have a prescribed minimum tenure of two years “unless it is found necessary to remove them prematurely following disciplinary proceedings against them or their conviction in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption or if the incumbent is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his responsibilities.”
According to police officers, who have voiced their concern over the issue in political and apolitical circles, the power to transfer police officers is meant only to regulate the internal administration of the police. But, they say, it is being used by the political executive to exert control over the force.
“It has become common practice for political parties who win elections to order mass transfers within the police administration immediately upon coming to power, sending a clear message who are the “favoured” officers and who are not and also a clear signal that it is the political executive that controls the police. Arbitrary and frequent transfers are ordered as a means to punish police personnel non-compliant with politically or personally motivated orders, and reward individual police officers for acting on such orders, no matter how illegal the same may be,” says Maja Daruwala, Director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative—a New Delhi based Non Governmental Organization working for police reforms in Jammu and Kashmir.
Maja says “the practical effects are various and dangerous: the internal chain of command is eroded, the internal integrity of the police organisation is tainted as following illegal or politically motivated actions becomes beneficial to officers, external elements also gain some traction over the police through political-criminal nexuses, policing drifts even further away from adherence to law, and honest police work is virtually discouraged.”
“This is not allowing the police to learn or hone policing skills, but is only encouraging inappropriate political/external patronage, acting on the behest of a few and powerful, and often victimizing others to do this. The current situation around the country is that transfers are being ordered entirely outside rational administrative necessities related to policing requirements, such as proper deployment of police, or placing particular officers with good service records or specific policing capacities to deal with area-specific crime concerns,” Maja told Greater Kashmir. “Public safety needs or crime concerns, and the police response to these, figure nowhere in the decisions on which officers to place where. Without stipulating minimum tenure for postings, the power to transfer will continue to be abused.”
According to police officers in Jammu and Kashmir, the officers on operational duty hold key positions in the field, each of which have heavy responsibilities to the officers under them, and the people living in their jurisdictions. “A stipulated minimum tenure allows these officers to withstand political interference, and with tenure stipulated in law, gives them the possibility to challenge arbitrary transfer orders. With tenure stipulated in law, the police as an organisation can also use these provisions to rally and prevent arbitrary transfer orders from arising at all. Further, a two-year tenure gives them time to properly understand the needs of their jurisdictions, learn about the people and communities they are serving, understand crime trends, and progressively develop policing strategy and response appropriate to the area and public safety needs,” said a former police officer, wishing anonymity.
The state government asserts that they have already complied with this directive through orders passed in 1978, 1988 and 1991.
In their affidavit to the Supreme Court in 2007, the government mentions that all police officers are ensured minimum two years tenure.
However, experts argue that the Government’s orders and memorandum are silent on the objective criteria for termination of tenure before the stipulated period.
The Apex Court has set out exceptions as to when to terminate a police officers tenure and says that it is desirable that these exceptions are reiterated in a Government Order or Circular to ensure that the tenure is not subject to unwarranted political interference or subjective opinions.
Pertinently in the 2010 unrest in Kashmir Valley, which led to killing of at least 115 youth in police and CRPF action, the state government faced a crisis with regard to placing officers on duty, with some cops resisting transfers. The bone of contention, it was then alleged, was the state government’s “self-styled” policy of placing or transferring police officers.
Even today, some officers, who spoke to Greater Kashmir on the condition of anonymity, feel disillusioned. “Before posting a police officer in any district, it is important that his credentials, experience and track record are thoroughly examined. If you prefer an incompetent officer to handle situations, it is bound to create discontent within the department, resulting in shirking any sensitive responsibility. Every government in the state is making postings on the basis of influence and proximity of a particular officer with the power corridors. You can’t work like this. You can’t be selective while posting police officers,” said a senior police officer. “And once you terminate an officer, you have to say why he has been terminated. If there are any wrong charges against him, they must be clearly delineated. But unfortunately, in some many cases in Jammu and Kashmir, the transfers are made in most unprofessional manner based on personal likes and dislikes of politicians.”
Lastupdate on : Tue, 20 Sep 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 20 Sep 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 21 Sep 2011 00:00:00 IST
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