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THE INDIAN POLICE: MALADIES AND REMEDIES

The nexus between criminals, politicians and policemen has made the police totally ineffectual when it comes to maintaining law and order. Only if this nexus is broken and the police force totally revamped, will Indians be able to life without fear.

Crime, politics and the police are the 3 sides of the vicious triangle within which democratic India and its free people are inexorably caught today. Though wealthy industrial and commercial houses form the 4th dimension of this unfortunate situation, their manipulative strategies are as yet limited to trying to influence politicians in pursuit of their interests.

It is their wealth that operates as a catalyst in reducing the normal life of free citizens to a welter of uncertainties and unending hardships. However, their role is rather distant and indirect, unlike that of criminals, politicians and the police.

Politicians protect criminals from the law while criminals reciprocate by acting as their henchmen in handling underground activities. The police goes to the politicians for job protection while at the same time it strikes an understanding with criminals. Thus works this nexus of vile power brokers who prey on innocent people and suck the blood of the hapless masses.

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The trio of criminal, political and police manipulators is a dangerous force to reckon with, in the Indian democratic situation. A tight-knit power-bloc, they have permeated into all conceivable facets of Indian public life with the sole intention of garnering all the benefits of an inefficient public administration. The tragedy here is that this evil is perpetrated by those whom the public trust as their benefactors and protectors.

The amoral side of this operation does not seen to have affected either the police or the politicians in any way and the vile cabal against, the Indian public works on indifferent to everything except its own self-interest. It seems that all the actors in this tragic drama think that the Indian democracy is a free-for-all, where they should try to grab all that they can in a world where each person has to look after himself.

This approach is certain to undermine not only the democratic set-up of the nation, but also its social fabric. The blame for this sad state of affairs should be squarely borne by the ugly troika of politicians, criminals and the police.

All the maladies of the police today emanate from the politicians who are only concerned with winning the next election. Until it extricates itself from their grip, it cannot hope to rise above its present mediocre level.

3 An immediate need is to streamline the organisation. At present, the growth of the police department is not really much more than a spasmodic reaction to various stimuli and as a result it lacks the benefits of an integrated approach. Operational facilities, counter-balances and counter-checks are inadequate.

The constitution of a permanent cell of organisational experts under the direct control of the police chief to redefine the police organisation is required to make it more meaningful and need-based.

This could help in streamlining the hierarchy by identifying and eliminating redundant posts, by rationalising workloads and preventing their duplication and by redefining duties and procedures and thus the rights and responsibilities at each level. As a consequence, police functioning would be made more cost-effective and efficient.

UNATTRACTIVE SERVICE

The accusation that no talent breeds and grows in the wilderness of the police setup cannot be easily gainsaid. The Indian Police Service continues to be an intellectually

4 poor and unattractive service in the spectrum of the All –India services with only misfits opting for its.

The constabulary, which forms the bulk of the service, is largely constituted of people from the lower stratum of society who are psychologically handicapped when it comes to exercising their police powers against the more enlightened people in society.

A tendency to sideline superior intellect and excellence, a general reluctance to adopt modern techniques of policing and management, a dogmatic approach to personnel and public relations and a lack of insight into human nature are other factors responsible for the unfortunate state of affairs in the force.

These problems can be overcome only by capable police leadership at all levels. The organisation is bound to experience a glissade until objectivity, reasonableness and good judgement become a part of the police administration.

The annual assessment of men and officers in the police has become a travesty of what it was originally meant to be. In no way, under the present circumstances, does an ACR reflect an officer’s qualities or capabilities or lack thereof. Many therefore believe that the department would be better off without this pernicious evaluation process that encourages corruption and favouritism in the force.

5 It must, however, be said that the evils of the ACR are not inherent in the process itself, but stem rather from the calibre of those who write them at various levels. What characterises the rite of the ACR today is a distinct lack of objectivity: it has become a means to personal ends, a medium for the advancement of individual interests and even the settlement of personal scores.

Servility is its inevitable consequence and it would not be wrong to say that eliminating the ACR altogether would certainly be a step towards commune bonum in the police force.

A Deputy Inspector General of Police in a range wanted a young Deputy Superintendent of Police to marry a girl close to him. The self-respecting DSP chose to marry a girl of his own choice. This antagonised the Deputy Inspector General. His next annual confidential report showed the junior as a liability to the police department.

The senior

officer also prevailed year after year upon other officers

to

incorporate adverse remarks in the confidential reports of the junior. Most of them obliged and this bright junior officer ended up with a series of unsubstantiated adverse remarks in his confidential reports.

All his appeals were ignored by the Government. As a result, the young officer was denied selection to the IPS for the next 9 years while his far less competent

6 colleagues superseded him on the career ladder, though there is nothing in his career to justify such treatment.

Undeterred by the humiliation and career setbacks intentionally heaped on him he then requested the Chief Secretary of the Government not to consider him any more for the IPS. He took this measure to show his utter contempt of the corrupt departmental heads who sit above him to decide his fate.

There are numerous instances of unhealthy practices at the highest levels in the Indian police. Karnataka produced a police chief who, together with his wife, was taken to court on the eve of his retirement, from service by a prominent social worker for allegedly defrauding the public and a spastic society by siphoning off huge amounts of money, collected for the spastics.

It is a different story that the officer concerned succeeded in silencing the social worker through police pressure and ensured that the case fell through for lack of evidence. The incident betrays the levels to which Indian police stoop to make a few bucks. occupying high positions in the

In such an atmosphere with the maintenance of law and order in the hands of unprincipled police personnel. Queer things take place. Long ago, a dacoity was

reported in the house of a person of doubtful character in Dharwad district in Karnataka.

7 The dacoity was actually committed by the illegitimate son of the concerned person after a serious quarrel. The complainant later settled his feud with the illegitimate son and decided to settle the case of dacoity to save his family name.

He successfully arranged for an ex-convict of Stuartpuram to be picked up and shown as the accused. A mangalasutra recast from the gold recovered in some other case was shown as property seized from the criminal !

Such developments make a mockery of criminal justice. What a serious breach of public trust it is for the police to involve a person, albeit an ex-convict, in a crime which they knew he did not commit. The incident reveals the levels of criminality to which the Indian police has sunk.

INHUMAN TORTURE

In another instance in 1981, police officials in charge of Koppal sub-division in Karnataka picked up a poor goldsmith from Gadag in a neighbouring district for

interrogation about receiving stolen property. They subjected him to inhuman torture in the Gadag tourist bungalow for 2 nights to make the innocent goldsmith confess to crimes which he had not committed.

The wife and children of the goldsmith, who found him in the tourist bungalow after endless running from pillar to post, were chased away from the place though they

8 could hear his agonised shrieks. The goldsmith succumbed to the torture on the second night.

The news of the lock-up death, as such deaths are popularly called, was splashed in local and other newspapers. The wife of the goldsmith filed a complaint before the local court about the cold-blooded murder of her husband.

The district Superintendent of Police and the Range Deputy Inspector General of Police, whose protégé the sub-divisional police officer was, rose to the occasion to save him.

They visited Gadag and entrusted the investigation of the case to the compliant Deputy Superintendent of Police of a neighbouring sub-division with oral directions to finalise the case as “not proved” before the magistrate, who had received the wife’s complaint and taken cognisance of the plaint.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police complied with these directions and sent his investigation report to the court for action u/s 210 of the Cr.PC. Thus ended the case of cold-blooded torture and culpable homicide of an innocent goldsmith.

Such stories of cruelty and criminality make the police appear like demons. What right has the police to investigate and prosecute criminals while it protects its own killers?

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Though it is difficult to extricate the police machinery from the clutches of the politicians, it is an important measure that has to be undertaken at al costs in the overall interests of the country

If policing is to be effective in the years ahead, specialisation is crucial. Three distinct police services with separate recruitment and training are needed. These are:

1. Regulatory police or uniformed police in charge of law and order And other regulatory duties. 2. Mainstay police in charge of crime investigation, crime prevention, Security and intelligence operation. 3. Social police in charge of prevention and investigation of all social Offences and implementation of social legislation.

All the 3 wings should have their own individual organisations up to the district level with independent superintendents and staff as required. They should function in tandem in much the same way as the army, navy and air force do.

At the apex could be a specially constituted body called the State police authority with police chiefs of all the 3 wings as members and the Chief Secretary to the Government as its Chairman.

10 A PANACEA

Creation of an all-India police authority at the Centre, responsible only to the President of India, with regional police authorities in each State as subordinate bodies, may prove to be a panacea to most of the extant maladies of the Indian police.

The all-India police authority may be headed by a Supreme Court judge with the Union Home Secretary and Central Cabinet Secretary as members and the senior most police officer of the country as the member-secretary.

The arrangement is likely to bring to an end the undue interference by politicians in police affairs, thus enabling the police to function in an independent atmosphere. The Indian police may hope to function well in the new age if these measures are implemented.