Remove political influence, ensure police reforms, say expertsDecember 15th, 2008 - 10:49 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) It was only at the time of crisis, the latest being the Mumbai terror attacks, that there is talk of reforms in the police force, but often nothing comes of it, said experts here Monday, calling for removal of politicisation of the police force. “Indian policing remains colonial because it continues to be governed by the Police Act of 1861. Unfortunately, we hear about police reform each time there is a crisis - the latest being the terrorist attack in Mumbai. There are seminars, conferences and formation of committees but nothing concrete happens,” Ved Marwah, former director general of the National Security Guard (NSG), said at a conference on citizens calling for police reform in the capital Monday.
“Everytime the issue comes up, there are the usual questions like how can the police be given more power when there are already cases piling up against them. The recommendations on police reform talk about greater accountability and transparency,” he said.
Three key aspects of reforms were identified by several expert committees and commissions and were echoed by the Supreme Court in 2006.
One among them is removal of undue and illegitimate outside interference in all aspects of policing, while ensuring that the police are superintended by the political executive.
“There has been too much of politicisation of the police force. Many good police officers are restrained from their rightful duty because they are concerned about their tenure,” advocate and former attorney general Soli Sorabjee said.
“An independent merit based procedure should be used through which the director general of police (DGP) is selected and a fixed term should be ensured so that they can do their job without the fear of getting transferred,” Sorabjee said.
Members of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), the international NGO which organised the conference, listed a number of pointers which can achieve police reforms.
One among them was improvisation of conditions of work and resources of the police force.
“Training should be an ongoing activity across all ranks throughout their service careers, they should be provided with better resources and weapons. Also, very importantly, there should be a police welfare board to take care of the housing, health and other needs of the police personnel,” Sorabjee said.
“Also, security for those people who take it as a status symbol should be removed. We are as it is depleted of man power and a chunk of what we have is overburdened and distracted from their real work because of such reasons,” J.S. Verma, former chief justice of India, said.
Sorabjee, however, had the last word: “There is no point talking endlessly about these issues. The Supreme Court of India had issued directives to the state and central governments and if any state refuses to obey it, they should be taken to task”.