POLICE IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE

Justice begotten at a cost is justice lost. The fact is lost sight of by the present administration of justice. Justice is a natural right. It is the sine qua non and raison d’etre of social grouping. Justice in a social environment have to be as natural as sleep or oxygen to a living being. Free and fair justice is the leges legum of human rights. The proficiency of justice administration has to be assayed with this litmus test and the role of the police in the system has to be judged by its contributions to this goal of the justice administration system.

Justice in its basic sense necessitates an integral vision. Justice abstracted from its environment, past, present, future, diverse issues, dramatis personae and related events cannot be justice in the true sense of the word. Justice in parts is no justice that lasts. Justice involves delving deep down to the heart of an issue and delivering justice in reference to all related issues and matters to the rightful entitlement of all. This

presupposes a passion for objectivity and justness and above all, selflessness in the arbitrators of justice as well as in those who are in the service of the administration of justice. The role of the police in the administration of justice comes to scrutiny in the context of their non a such part in the investigation of crimes and maintenance of law and order.

Police play umpteen roles as grassroot executors. They are basically performers, actual doers in the field. Passion in the normal trait of action. Objectivity and justness seldom give company to those who act to show results. Expecting selfless traits in a profession like police is waiting for rain drops from white clouds. They do perform duties with normal flair and loyalty while put in service of justice. The tragedy is that the loyalty of the police prefers the interests of the rich and powerful to the abstract idea of justice they are put in service of.

Loyalty to justice is a noble cause. It signifies a heightened mind bound to a heightened cause. Loyalty to a value or a just cause is always a great virtue. The same cannot be said about loyalty to individuals of whatever importance. Loyalty by

definition signifies loss of freewill and independence of thought. Loyalty is a binding, strong in that, an emotional binding by volition, but a binding nevertheless; there is no independence in it. It is a mortgage of the self. Loyalty denotes polarisation of the self; devotion to one, and thoughtless opposition to whoever stands up to the object of the devotion. This notion renders loyalty devoid of any sense of justice, which bounces from the springboard of freedom of thought and independent judgement. Ergo, individual

loyalty in the service of the administration of justice is self-defeating to the cause of justice. The Achilles’ heel lies in loyalty basically being a faith, a blind faith. Sans stirrings in the conscience. It is an inferior submission to a superior existence, ipso facto subverting per se the very foundation of the cardinal principle of equality among individuals. The only loyalty to conscience, freedom of thought and independent

judgement. A police man with this loyalty can do exemplary job in service of the administration of justice.

Police as the cutting–edge of the governance, enjoy enormous powers. Bringing law-breakers and criminals to book is just a part of the gargantuan responsibilities on their shoulders. As the task-masters of the statecraft, they are invested with diverse rights and privileges. They have a peek to all private as well as public activities of the citizenry. They can constrain people to perform specific tasks and forbid from doing others in the national and public interests. They prevent, check, prohibit, restrain, regulate, confine or arrest erring people depending on time to time needs dictated by the circumstances. They can forcibly break open, enter, search and seize when need arises. They use weapons to hurt and kill. The wide spectrum of powers impinging on the basic rights of the plebeian places the police on a pedestal different from that of the common man as far as the administration of justice is concerned. These extraordinary powers are tools of the police in serving the interests of justice. The police, as the means of justice, are often exempted from the process of justice by the law itself. Human nature being what it is, the need of keeping the police in tight leash regarding exercise of their sensitive powers has become conditio sine qua non for the administration of justice.

The relevance of the police in administration of justice is two fold; one, fair exercise of their responsibilities in the interests of justice; two, fair exercise of their powers to ensure that no harm is done to the process of justice. As dispensers of justice during investigation of crimes and maintenance of law, police perform highly sensitive

tasks capable of undermining the very process of the justice administration, Police enjoy unrestricted freedom unbecoming to the sensitivity of their job. Practically, there are no means to force them to comply with the needs of objectivity and fairplay in work save their own interpretations of laws and actions. Postliminary intereferences of courts are too little, too late to be meaningful. By the time an issue knocks at the doors of courts, damage to the process of justice could have been irrevocably done. Whatever courts to thereafter help only partial recovery from the damage. Innocent people would already have been arrested, chargesheeted and harassed; decent people would have been dishonestly denied rightful dues in the name of maintenance of law; criminals would have been willingly let off the noose; or hors la loi would have been let free to do things in violation of the extant laws as quid pro quo. What police do in the name of dispensing justice are material to the hoi polli, not what courts deliver, if deliver at all, at some distant future. The fact brings the police centre-stage in the administration of justice. Police unequipped for the crucial role is the crux of the issue. Lack of sound mechanism of supervision and poor position of policeman in society, mediocre education, deviant job culture etc inhibit police from performing at levels adequate for the importance of their responsibilities. It denies them organisational pride. Field orientations distract them from high human values. Weak economic position and easy opportunities for dishonest riches render them prone to corrupt practices. There is nothing tangible in their service to inspire commitment to noble causes. Their job culture does not inspire them to delve deep into diverse nuances of their job. Their service lacks in facilities to enhance professional competence. Consequence is shallow policing, mechanical works en face policing crying for deep, intellectual analyses of its relevance for establishment

of a just society and national well-being. Shallow policing is responsible for all the mishaps and turbulence of the first half century of independent India. The period saw police distracted to go berserk seeking parochial and selfish ends. A force committed to parochial and selfish interests can hardly do any justice to the administration of justice. Another relevance of the police in the administration of justice is exercise of their special powers without committing wrongs against justice. Police are dangerous fences with their extraordinary powers potential to uproot and destroy the crops they are put in charge. Their enormous powers presume special responsibilities on their shoulders to protect innocent people from rash exercise of powers. This is an infinitely more difficile responsibility considering what human nature is and how every man suffers from a blind spot about himself. Every person is right for himself. Every criminal is just in his own assessment. Every act, every human being, does has its own logic, reasons and

justifications. Nobody ever is wrong to himself. This is true of the police too. Every encounter, every lockup death, every third degree method, every wrongful confinement, every illegal arrest, every excess committed by police has its own police justifications. It is irrelevant how the justifications. It is irrelevant how the justifications appear to outsiders. You seld find police confessing to a wrong or an excess committed. We have examples of police commissioners justifying gunning down of innocent citizens by subordinates in broad daylight in a busy street as a bonafide cause of mistaken identity. We have any number of cases of senior police officers colluding with subordinates in destroying evidences of lock-up death cases. Punjab police revelled in hushing up cases of cold-blooded murders through false encounters. Police excesses are justified by the top-brass per procurationem of the solidarity of the police force as though the concept is

inimical to the interests of justice. Use of third degree methods is excused as the bedrock of policing as if justice is as irrelevant concept as far as police are concerned. The ambience, with the police going berserk with their special powers to establish a just society, is not conducive to the administration of justice. The police are committing wrongs against justice by the very means invested to them to protect the interests of the justice. This is an irony of the relevance of police in the administration of justice.

The cause of failure of the police lies more in the systems failure the character of its dramatise personae, deviant job culture and wrong leadership than in the concept of police. Police in inappropriate milieu may turn into a Frankenstein. It is like a herd of tamed elephants in a khedda operation. Lack of direction, weak management and poor organisation turn the tamed rogues on rampage against the organisational goals instead of bringing of knees the ferae naturae. Remedial measures have to be found for the prevarications rather than blaming the police tout a fait.

Policing being a specialised job with rare keeks inside by outsiders about measures and decisions taken in disparate circumstances, few outsiders comprehend that the job gives tremendous leeway for work and decisions, be it crime investigation or maintenance of law. This is a dangerous liberty in the system of dispensing justices that warrant preciseness and smug exactitude in the sensitive business of balancing justice. The sensitivity is briller par son absence in the present police and policing system. Justice being what it is in the present age of prolate concours making threatening differences , the leeway in policing process gives scope for favours, misuses and

corruption. Lack of real supervision and control over the work ab extra is another face of the problem. Beginning from deciding whether a prima facie case is made out in a complaint and whether the case is to be investigated to whether it is to be chargesheeted, at what stage, on whom, with what all evidences, every decision is exclusive police decisions. How an investigation proceeds, at what speed, whom to arrest and whom not, at what stage, whom to release on bail and whom not to, what to search and seize, where, at what juncture of time, the direction of the investigation to be pursued and what turns to be taken at what phase, police decide on own without reference, supervision, guidance or control from outside. Though laws provide for courts to keep track of the process of investigation, it is rarely the case in the field. The situation is blatantly glidder in the field of maintenance of law sans the mechanism of courts keeping track of the issues unless the matter is filed, before a court of law. The Achilles’ heel is taken advantage of by the rich and the powerful. Police have become willing tools in their hands in warping justice in barter of the crumbs they throw from the res gestae of their unjust deeds. The situation is conspicuous in police bending laws in favour of the people in power to let them out of the noose of laws or crush their enemies or keep Sophocles’ sword hanging on the crowns of their opponents to ease political manoeuvres. The degringolade began during the emergency of 1975, saw a rising swing in 1980s and found in excelsis in the early 1990s with courts taking cognisance of the situation and convinced about the need of their intereference in the interests of the administration of justice. Public interest litigations became popular. Higher courts ventured into close scrutiny of investigations into cases against people in power. It became public that there was no history of

convictions of powerful politicians in independent India in criminal cases investigated by

investigating agencies including the CBI and rarely such cases were investigated but on political compulsions. The premier investigation agency and its chief were subjected to strictures in open courts for nonperformance, partisan approach and contempt of court in investigations to cases against people in power. Close scrutiny of the investigations led to arrest, chargesheet and conviction of powerful political leaders. The tragedy of the awakening is that the so called judicial activism saw itself serving the interests of the political witch-hunt preceded it. This considerably reduced the impact of the elert courts on the national scene.

The witch-hunt became a part of the policy of survival of United front government that followed. The use of the CBI and revenue enforcement agencies to bring political rivals to submissions led to the fall of government in April 1997.

The state terrorism against political rivals became a perfect art in 1970s with the use of intelligence agencies for surveillance and opening secret, files, and in 1990s with the use of investigation agencies for manoeuvring investigations into criminal cases, with the willing cooperation of police leaders in the respective agencies. While the trend strengthened the position of the chief executive of the government, it sine dubio, weakened the political fabric of the country, so essential for a democratic process. In comparison , misuse of investigating agencies proved a deadlier assault on the political process of the country. Jain-Hawala case caught the popular attention as nothing before. The case took down its author and his party with his political rivals to the drains. The coalition government that followed used the same ropes to strike a wedge among the

leaders of the party that supported it from outside by terrorising some through the CBI and revenue enforcement agencies and luring others with the crumbs of power. Bofors kickback case got a lease of life. St.Kitts forgery case and Lakhubhai Pathak cheating case were re-enacted and manoeuvred to net-in strategic political rivals on filmsy evidences.Rs.133 crore Urea scam and JMM bribery cases loomed large. A key leader was interrogated without sound grounds for possessing wealth disproportionate to known sources of income and later implicated in Tanwar murder case on suspicion. The party was subjected to various enquries by revenue enforcement agencies. The acts nailed the fate of the coalition government to prove that misuse of police often goes counter productive in political manoeuvrings as did in Tamilnad where erstwhile Chief Minister, Ms.Jayalalitha, found a series of criminal cases stacked against her and her associates, once she fell out of power and popular support.

Recent past saw executive heads of government opting for their own men in the police force to head the premier investigation agency of the country and political rivals being investigated and chargesheeted at politically opportune times on flimsiest grounds while cases of national significance on sound footing were dragged on for decades wantonly. Often, ambiguous entries in diaries to prove bribery and old photographs together in public functions to prove collaboration became conclusive evidence to

proceed against inconvenient political leaders. It was a scene of every successor hurling criminal cases against his predecessor. Police reduced to a tool of political revenge in this powergame. In the process, the police lost its credibility as a nonpartisan player and an invincible tool of establishing justice. It is a pity that the lee-way police enjoy in

policing contributed to its loss of face and spine by its patent sequacious comportment and lack of passion to the case of justice.

Opportunities of dispensing favours during maintenance of law are common and aplenty in policing. It be raids on vice dens, issue of licences, or action on rowdy gangs, decisions of police about whom, when and how, play important role in political gameplan. The decisions and concomitant actions more often than not, are taken on political convenience rather than as measures of curbing lawlessness. Police act as conduits of partisan measures in favour of the powerful rather than as tools of

administering justice to all. Power assumed higher importance to police than justice. Vice dens, criminals and rowdy gangs, bien chausse with political patronage or money power, are not only allowed to run trouble-free, but often protected to the hilt by the police. This is how the police in the job of serving justice are stabbing it en arriere.

Police patronage to hors la loi is ephhemeral and changes colours with the change of guard in the government. Personal ambitions of some in the organisation lead to partonages ectogenous to political manoeuvres in form of crosspolitical allegiances and subservience to rich and influential segments of the society. In the maelstrom,

justice suffers, and the nation, its constitution and the general public to whom the police as the guardians of justice are responsible, suffer.

Police is not the odd-job boy of the government. It is not the hand-maid of politicians in or out of power. Police is an organisatioon of professionals committed to

the safety, security and well-being of the country. Justice and rule of law are the litmus tests available to achieve these ends. Once police miss the bus of justice and the rule of law, their goals of safety, security and well-being remain a distant dream. They lose the credibility and respect of the public, so essential for effective and perficient policing. The fear the police inspire can not take it far in absence of credibility, respect and sympathy of the public. Once the police lose their usefulness in political and power gameplans consequent to losing public credibility, their political patrons will discard them like used condoms. The best bet for the police is to be professional and committed to their responsibilities towards the administration of justice. Police would forget this need only at their own peril. Doing anything violative of its raison d’etre like

sabotaging the course of justice will prove to be fatal to the relevance of the police for the society.

The relevance of the police lies in its usefulness to the administration of justice au reste safety and security. Police are the arms of the administration of justice. They are the drive and thrust of the administration of justice. Paralysed arms crumble the body of the administration of justice. Arms struck by struck by gangrene, poison the whole system of the administration of justice. As a vital organ of the administration of justice,police have inherent potentiality to sabotage the interests of justice ab intra in umpteen kinds including blatant mendacity. Inordinate delays in the process of

investigations is one. Bartering justice is another. Subjecting justice to the terms of quid pro quo is one more. Inefficient and shallow policing add to the list. Delivering partial justice adds to the problem. Refusing to act against injustice is another kind of injustice to

justice. Making justice a costly affair gives another dimension to the issue. Effectiveness of police lies in its ability in making justice an easily and cheaply dispensable commodity. Police are the first line of the means of dispensing justice. Courts come to the scene only in far later stage for restricted number of cases. For the hoi polloi, police is the first and the only easy defence against injustices. Most cases of disputes never cross the thresholds of the police stations. Police do act as arbitrators of justice in

criminal as well as civil cases in exercise of the wide spectrum of responsibilities of crime investigations, investigations, maintenance of law, enforcement of order, preventive measures and security duties. They enjoy a key position in the administration of justice. A good police certainly symbolise effective administration of justice more than courts and prosecution department together do. That is why a sound police system is conditio sine qua non for the health and progress of the country and its tenuous social fabric.

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