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POLICING THE POLICE

The work police or policing is derived from the Greek roots polis means city and politeia, Latin politia and French police means polity; its English root is “policy” means statecraft, plan or course of action especially in statecraft or administering the laws. The spectrum of the meanings of the word ‘police’ and ‘policing’ swings from ‘city’ in one extremity to ‘statecraft’ and administering the laws in the other. Police and policing imply administering the laws of the country in the process of the statecraft. Police deal with laws as part of the administration in shape of its enforcement and detection and investigation of its violations. Policing the police is administering laws to police and bringing violators to book selon les regles. It is a measure of fencing the fences to prevent them from themselves looting the crop. The vectors of policing the police rely on the moral convictions of the police force and pro rata decide the effectiveness of policing outside. A law-abiding police is a boon to the country, its administration and policing system as well.

The very concept of policing the police is pregnant with the suggestion that police do not necessarily limit themselves to the bounds of the laws, therefore require policing. A protector, guardian and enforcer in one has two facets: he is a master as well as a servant at the same time. This is what is expected of police in regard to laws. The issue is whether police serve the laws in the capacities. They do act as masters in enforcing them. But their role as servants of laws needs deeper probe about how far they are subject to and guided by the laws in force.

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Policing the police involves self-policing.

Internal vigil against lawlessness

within in the form of prevention, investigation, enforcement and protection motivated by a sense of commitment to law and justice is its pith. Such commitment presupposes professional pride, conditioned by high morale spawned by clean professional culture of high values, sound reputation and standing of the profession in society and the sense of achievement and recognition, the profession induces. The elements of policing the police are embedded in the organisational culture and the managerial dynamics of the police setup. Its value system, objectives, means pursued to achieve them, attainments,

strengths and weaknesses, the reticulation of human relationship, public image, efficiency of managerial vectors, sense of fairness in assessing performance and granting recognition determine the orientation of a police organisation to rein in itself to the consuetudes within the bounds of law, justice and popular acceptability. Their sensitivity to their image and reputation helps to strain every fibre to keep up to public expectations and avoid unfair practices. This is au reste the individual pride in the force about being a worthy member of a worthy institution. The individual and organisational prides interact to create an ambience of high morale and great professional pride to serve as the greatest tool of policing the police from within.

Creation of a distinct arm within the police setup to police the organisation a la military police in army is another techinique. This is gratuitous in police for the simple reason that police organisation is capable of handling police responsibilities within as effectively as outside. The only block to the process is natural fellow-feeling and

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administrative measures au reste adequate sensitisation to the threats of unlawful and criminal activities ab intra. Criminal and other unlawful activities of the law-enforcers destabilise the democratic foundation as well as the judicial system of the country. Police hors la loi while act as harbourers and pillars of support to outside criminals and create havoc in the law–enforcing system, no meaningful policing is possible. They boost the confidence of criminals and help the spread of criminal activities. A true effort to arrest lawlessness in the country must begin with pernoctation against outlaws within the police and drastic measures to snap their connections with outside criminals. This brings the need of policing the police to the forefront, Efforts at policing the police must begin with right recruitment policy to ensure that only right people enter the job. Next important stage is right training. Third stage is creation of right ambience of job culture within the service. Fourth factor is institution of a right system of rewards and punishments on the basis of actual performance. Fifth is sensitising the top brass of the force about the need of policing the police too make policing meaningful and purposeful. An extension of this sensitisation is willingness of the police administrators to track down unlawful and criminal elements within the force and efforts to deracinate hem from the system as fast as possible. It is easier said than done in actual practice.

Obstacles to policing the police are numerous, ranging from clever use of loopholes in the system and laws to circumvent the arm of legal authority to use of

4 external pressures to extricate from impending disciplinary proceedings. Police is a part of the world outside and cannot exist in complete isolation from it. Their close

interdependance and symbiosis make them sine qua non for each. In the circumstances, they mutually influence and the lawlessness and criminal tendencies of the society outside seep into the police system to allay its resolve for self-policing, and corrode the process. This allay reflects in recruitment, training, job culture, system of rewards and punishments and resolve to cleanse the system. Concomitantly police lose moral right to policing anywhere.

Vigilance organisation does keep tab on all government organisations including the police. The arrangement is simply inadequate to meet the needs of policing the police for the simple reason that the scope of a vigilance organisation is more or less limited to activities related to corruption and that its jurisdiction is so widely spread on all government organisations that it can hardly do any meaningful work to cleanse the police even on the single agenda of rooting out corruption. The pith of such a vigilance

organisation being constituted of police personnel, chances of sympathies for criminal colleagues are more than incidental. That is why, vigilance organisation can hardly be an answer for the problem of policing the police.

Service and conduct rules that guide the conduct and activities of government servants are too weak an instrument to meet the needs of policing the police. Rules therein couched in procedural hurdles and usual governmental loopholes can scarcely be effective in providing the vigorous drive needed for the efforts of policing the police. It

5 is a fact that these rules achieve no more than keeping the government business going. They are not meant either to inculcate true fear or induce motivation towards any end. Police cannot look to them for sustenance of its need of policing the police.

An outside agency that can substitute for the lack of self-regulation in police is judiciary. Both are closely-knit in the cause of the administration of law and justice. Police organisation is functionally subject and subordinate to the directions of the judiciary in the dispensation of justice and the rule of law. The ethos of judiciary prevents it from close and day to day scrutiny of the police functions unless it resorts itself to pro-active mode in select cases when warranted by the atrophy set in as in extant India. Judiciary is a disinterested and uninvolved observer of the field trends unless it is forced to interfere in the overall interests of justice. Its ethos prevent it from being an effective tool of policing the police save in rare and far-between circumstances like the recent ones wherein handling of investigations of politically sensitive cases came to public scrutiny and popular condemnation. Further, judiciary lacks the infra-structure required to perficiently police the police. Judiciary is best suited to give jolts once in a way on selective basis. This is just about to remind police about what is right and what is expected of them rather than effectively policing the police.

Bihar is a distinct example of how police, putrid at the core, add to the atrophy of the public life rather than bringing a sense of discipline there. Police organisation is not only ineffective there; it foots the bill of being a setup of criminals in uniform. The claim of justice Mulla of the Allahabad High Court in 1968 that if there was an organised force

6 of criminals in India, it went by the name of police, perfectly suits the police setup of some major states of North India like Bihar and U.P. Though Punjab police did

commendable job in containing terrorism in Punjab the police in the job there at the time were almost sans self-policing. The point is that the same goal could be achieved with better self-policing in part of the Punjab police. Nexus of criminals and police in Bihar is too striking to be ignored. The police of U.P do not lag behind much. The misease is a common phenomenon in India. Politicians hold criminals and police together from above for obvious reasons. In the circumstances, policing the police from below

becomes meaningless and purposeless even in the unlikely even of efforts of selfpolicing within the police. The true clavis of policing the police lies in breaking the noxious nexus.

Policing must begin from within and spread outward. Self-policing is the primus of the responsibilities of any effective policing setup. It needs higher commitment and resolve as a foundation to meaningful policing otherwhere. Self-policing must constitute the core of activities of a police organisation worth the name. As only a flame within can shed light outside and only a conviction within can spread confidence outside, a clean environment inside only gives strength to cleanse the world around. The conundrum is how to bring it about. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Police as the arm of the state power structure, enjoy enormous powers. Incidence of corruption is natural in the circumstances. Corruption of police badly affects the hoi polloi and their trust in police, judicial system and honesty of the government. A corrupt and lawless

7 police makes lives of plebeian a hell. Policing by a lawless and corrupt police is just a mockery played on hapless people.

A cardinal measure in policing the police is making the unlimited power of police accountable. The present provision of protection given for acts done under the colour of office is largely misused. No proper mechanism is evolved to demarcate what to what degree constitute acts done under the colour of office. Anything done in performance of official duties including unlawful acts and often those done outside the ambit of official duties too are carried piggyback under the clause of official protection unless the acts draw the public scrutiny and become too hot to be defended by the birds of the same flock in uniform and their godfathers above in government. Police being a closely knit organisation, its members rarely let down each other as any of them may find himself in a similar situation at any time in the prevailing prolate disregard for law in police . Also, the usefulness of police render them protected for their misdeeds by the bureaucracy and the politicians. The outcome is a police force with unlimited powers and protection against its misuse without any purposeful accountability. No organisation with such powers, protection and lack of accountability can develop any respect for law. The foremost need is forcing police out of this protection to bring it en plein jour to accountability for every evil committed by it. Protection have to be an exception rather than a rule for actions done in honest discharge of official duties. A suitable machinery manned by disinterested persons of high standing can be instituted to oversee the benefit of official protection is justifiable. Leaving the matter to official superiors from the same flock may only serve the travesty of justice.

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An important safeguard to strengthen the process of policing the police is insulation of disciplinary and rewards system from outside influences. A sense of exactitude and promptitude has to be injected to the system and objectively is made the abracadabra of the process. A sense of certitude about penal action for a given failure has to develop in the organisation. Punishment has to be pro rata to the gravity of the mens rea and adequate to deflect others in the organisation from pursuing the path in future . More important, nothing from outiside should deter the process, so that the feeling of security that one can save himself from whatever irresponsible and unlawful act by bringing pressure from outside remains no more available to schemers and worng-doers.

There are informal measures too, like transfers and selections of police personnel for medals and other rewards. Presently these measures are careened towards money and political clout one enjoys which is earned always by corrupt, immoral and illegal means. Once weightage is given to right people in the organisation in posting to

rewarding jobs and selection for medals and other rewards instead of those with illgotten money and political clout, the measure itself works as an enormous boost to the morale of the police force and brings its members on right and lawful tracks. The first step here is bringing an end to the present policy in favour of money and political powers. This step itself helps police force enormously in weakening the prise of money and political clout on the police force. The positive step of encouraging right personnel by proper transfer and rewards policy adds to the benefit. These subtle measures can do wonders to the efforts of policing the police.

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Intelligent employment of conventional stick and carrot method can certainly cleanse the police setup and make policing purposive, meaningful and effective. What is required is willingness to police the police to make the organisation condign of policing responsibilities. The power of police does not lie in its numerical strength or the arms it weilds. The real power of police is its moral strength and the image it presents to the outside world. A clean, honest and professional police have galvanic effect on the public as well as law-breakers. They are feared, loved, respected and patronised by everybody. This is an environment, most conducive for perficient policing. Clean and professional police help the cause. A clean and professional police is possible only with an effective tool of policing the police. The major task in reforming and building a new police force to India is restructuring it with an inbuilt mechanism of effective self-policing. How fast it is done, so much easier for the country to build a healthier nation by the time India will celebrate the centenary of its independence.