Sunday, February 2, 2014

Citizen's Monitoring of the Police

Kejriwal has claimed that because he has set up a help-line for citizens to register their complaints and to learn how to 'sting' public servants, corruption in Delhi has come down to negligible limits. To the extent that there is substance in this claim, it shows that fear of exposure and subsequent action can deter the corrupt to some extent.

In this context my suggestion for citizen's monitoring committees at the PSs needs to be re-looked.

I have suggested that there should be a citizens committee at each Police-Station which can entertain complaints from the people and ask questions of the PS and put the whole matter before senior officers, the govt and the media, if it is not satisfied with the response of the PS. The committee could have, say, seven members, which is a manageable number and which is not likely to be dominated by one party.I have suggested that all elected representatives living in the area should elect the members by a secret ballot so that the  committees enjoy the confidence of all elected representatives but need not share their compulsions; that only residents of the area, who are easily accessible to all, should be eligible, so that nobody has difficulty in getting heard; and that all those whom the SC has held ineligible for elections should be ineligible for membership of these committees. I have suggested that the Committees should be statutory, so that police may not take them lightly;that the law itself should make it clear that a committee can ask questions only as a committee and that individual members may not approach the police on their own ( so that there is no possibility of an under-hand deal between a member and the police in any matter), and that it should be absolutely clear that a committee can only ask questions of the PS and convey public concerns to them, but cannot interfere with police work in any way. I have further suggested that superior police officers should be obliged to inquire when the committee so recommends so that their impact is felt, that the inquiring officer should co-opt a nominee of the State Human Rights Commission and/or a nominee of the Women's Commission if a woman is alleged to have been harassed by the police and/or a nominee of the SC&ST Commission if the complainant belongs to SC or ST; and that a SDOP-level officer should be put in charge of each PS so that complaints referred by the committees can be quickly inquired  and better leadership and guidance is provided to the PS staff and bad behaviour is nipped in the bud. I have commended the suggestion that PSs should have CCTV cameras so that there is a record of how the PS staff have behaved with complainants, witnesses and suspects and suggested that there should be e-registration of FIR and that the district control room should react immediately to a report of an incident and hand over the case to PS concerned in due course.I have further suggested that govts must simultaneously sanction welfare schemes for the police, which would compensate them for the hazards of service, including inability to devote time to children.

I don't think any party will oppose legislation to set up citizens' committees; all other suggestions can be put into effect through executive orders, without delay and without much financial outlay.

(You can post your comments directly, there is no monitoring)


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