Policing the Police
Supreme Court directives must guide the police reforms
LAW AND ORDER BY DR RAJA MUZAFFAR BHAT
Since last couple of years the local press has been reporting on the issues related to Police Reforms in Jammu & Kashmir. In fact the Government is optimistic to introduce a new Police Act which would ensure incorporation of the seven directives proposed by the Supreme Court of India in 2006 after pronouncing a judgment on the PIL filed by Prakash Singh who himself was a retired Director General of Police. Pertinent to mention that J&K Government has shown its inability to go ahead with the proposed reforms as the State Government had submitted an affidavit in 2006 wherein the Government had pleaded before the apex court that J&K be exempted from implementation of the judgment in view of “ so called security situation” in J&K. Years passed and the debate on police reforms again generated a momentum in J&K when the present Government announced to go ahead with the police reforms and a plan to introduce a new police law for the state is in offing. It brings no comfort that the administration has not consulted with other states and other stake holders before drawing up the draft bill.
What are the seven directives on Police Reforms ?
The Seven directives of the Supreme Court on Police Reforms are the practical mechanisms to kick start the reforms. They make up a scheme which if implemented holistically will correct the common ills that create poor police performance and unaccountable law enforcement today. The seven directives are as follows:
Constitute a State Security Commission (SSC) to:
(i) Ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police
(ii) Lay down broad policy guideline and
(iii) Evaluate the performance of the state police
Ensure that the DGP is appointed through merit based transparent process and secure minimum tenure of two years.
Ensure that other police officers on operational duties (including Superintendents of Police in-charge of a district and Station House Officers in-charge of a police station) are also provided a minimum tenure of two years
Separate the investigation and law and order functions of the police
Set up a Police Establishment Board (PEB) to decide transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of police officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and make recommendations on postings and transfers above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police
Set up a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at state level to inquire into public complaints against police officers of and above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct, including custodial death, grievous hurt, or rape in police custody and at district levels to inquire into public complaints against the police personnel below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct
Set up a National Security Commission (NSC) at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of Chiefs of Central Police Organisations with a minimum tenure of two years.
Since early last year The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and active citizens in J&K has been urging Government not to think of passing any new law on policing without first holding fulsome wide and deep consultations with the public at large and taking their suggestions into the law. Consultations must also include consultations with the constabulary who bear the whole weight of policing but have little say otherwise. But in spite of the assurances from Chief Minister and MOS Home no such consultations have been held till date. Even the draft police act is yet to be made public.
Why J&K needs police reforms ?
The Policing in J&K continues to be influenced by the colonial police law passed in British India in the year 1861.Therefore 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 large 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. The Policing practice 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.
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 Omar Abdullah 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 state legislature and it must be ensured that the draft police bill is made public by the Home Department or GAD in the same way as it was done three years back when the RTI bill was to be introduced in the state legislature.
Author is Convener J&K RTI Movement and is associated with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. Feed back : email@example.com
Lastupdate on : Sat, 28 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 28 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 29 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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