Mr. Rebates

Monday, November 15, 2010

Standing up for police reforms

Jan 16, 2010

Prakash Singh, a former DGP in Assam and UP, who also had a stint as head of BSF, is the man who initiated a PIL in the Supreme Court asking for measures to reform the police force. He speaks to TOI-Crest on why change is imperative and urgent ...

A majority of the states in India has turned into police states. There is an urgent need for police reforms. What do you think is stopping this?

Prakash Singh: The Supreme Court gave a direction in 2006 to the centre and states but there hasn't been much change ever since. Most of the states, particularly large ones, have been delaying the implementation of the six directions given by the SC. But even the SC is not serving a contempt notice to the states which are not complying with its directives . There is no willingness among the political class and bureaucrats to comply with the apex court's guidelines. In contrast, we are happy with the progress that smaller states, especially in the north-east , have made. These states have constituted police complaints authority.

What are the changes that you think these reforms can bring?

PS: For one, they will bring in greater transparency . If a state security committee is set up, it will reduce political interference in the working of the police . Also, separating investigation from law and order will give a major boost to the department. Normally , all the energy of the force in states such as UP and Bihar is diverted towards bandobast duty. And important cases are neglected. Once there is a separate force for law and order, investigation of cases can be done in a proper manner.

The image of the police in the eyes of the common man has taken a hit. No one wants to approach the police to lodge a complaint. If anyone does, he/she is discouraged by the cops. Why?

PS: These evils, like bad behaviour of a cop and refusal to register a case, have crept into the system over a period of time. The root cause of these problems can be attributed to the fact that the moment crime figures in a city go up, there is pressure on politicians. They want the police force to maintain the figures and keep it down. With migration of people, the crime figures are bound to increase. The annual figures shown by cops are all doctored. But society also needs to play an important role here. We all, including cops and politicians, need to accept the fact that crime is bound to increase due to so many factors.

Why is our police force so brutal in its behaviour? Don't you think there is a need to introduce a more humane and friendly police force?

PS: A part of this problem lies in the way our police force functions. I would not say that they are inhuman but, definitely, there is a lack of humanity in their approach. The reason for this could be several. For instance, they are put through rigorous duty hours with little or no rest. The entire system and rigorous processes involved make them brutal at times. There is also shortage of staff at police stations and cops are working 24x7. Once police reforms are introduced and states are given adequate police strength, these problems will be solved.

Why is the conviction rate in India so poor?

PS: I agree that we have a very low conviction rate in heinous cases. The reason for this is that trials are delayed and investigations are done in a shoddy manner, which ultimately leads to acquittal.

Source TOI

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