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Police Accountability Authority

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The constitution of a Police Accountability Authority to take care of the acts of omission and commission by the police personnel and the setting up of a State Police Board to cater to a strategic policing plan, figure prominently in the draft New Karnataka Police Act.

A high-level meeting of police officers, chaired by DG and IGP R Srikumar, decided on Friday to forward the draft to the State government for legislation.

The State government had entrusted senior IPS officer Kuchchanna Sreenivasa ADGP (KSRP) with the task of drafting the amendments to the Karnataka Police Act (1963) as sought by the Supreme Court in 2006.

Both the authority and the board suggested in the draft may be set up within three months of the Act coming into effect, it was said.

What is PAA? The Police Accountability Authority is envisaged to be a two-tier structure functioning at the State and District/ Commissionerate levels and shall probe the complaints against police personnel with regard to acts of omission or commission.

At the state-level, the power of the authority will vest with the State government or the DGP, and they shall take up complaints relating to officers of the rank of deputy/ assistant superintendent of police.

At the district-level, the Superintendent of Police or Commissioner of Police shall wield the powers of the authority and they shall probe into complaints related to police personnel below the rank of Inspector of Police.

Board for a plan In its stress on the need for the State Police Board, the draft calls for a strategic policing plan to be worked upon over a five-year period by duly identifying the objectives of policing. The same includes annual action plans too. The following shall make up the board: Chief Minister/ Home Minister as Chairperson; Director General of Police as member secretary; members - Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly, Lokayukta, a retired Judge of the High Court nominated by the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, Chief Secretary, and Director, IIM, Bangalore.

On transfers, the draft places emphasis on the proper management of transfers and promotions in the State Police Service with due regard to merit and seniority.

The Police Establishment Committee shall be competent to prescribe pre-promotional training and the qualifying examination, the draft states. It notes that the State government shall formulate a policy to ensure that all personnel get at least three promotions during their career.

The ADGP has also proposed separation of the police duties in respect of cases related to law and order, crime and providing security.

For the full story, click on:

Looks good overall from a reading of the newspaper report. However, a few questions arise. They are (a) Is this in conformity with the Soli Sorabjee Committee recommendations?; (b) Isn't there a need for the Police to place the draft before the Civil Society for their comments (and corrections as may be decided) before forwarding the draft to the government for legislation? (c) Even if there is no such provision, doesn't the Police consider it prudent to do so? (d) Where does the Civil Society come in all of this? Only after it has been legislated into the law? Is that fair?

Anybody has any answers?

Muralidhar Rao


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Police wait for reforms

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The government has never done anything adequate for the police, says DG and IGP R Sri Kumar. He expressed displeasure over how police reform recommendations have been gathering dust for decades.

“When the British created a police force in India, they wanted to control the people through the force. In England, it was a democratic police set-up. India is still following the 1861 Police Act, which says police are agents of the government,” Sri Kumar explained at an interactive session with members of Bangalore Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCIC) on Monday. He reminded the participants that the Dharamveer Committee report on police reforms was still on paper.
“When I started my career, I thought police reforms will happen in a few years. I will retire next month, and the recommendations are yet to be implemented.” According to him, spending on policing is less than 90 paise per capita a day. “Now, the government is ready to spend and the police must make good use of the funds,” he said.

Bangalore is vulnerable: Sri Kumar admitted Bangalore is vulnerable to a Mumbai-like terror attacks. “In 2000, Anjuman bombed churches and then the IISc attack came. We should restrict privileges of people to some extent.”

For the full text, click on:

Mr Prakash Singh, IPS (retd), the former DIG of Police from MP, whose PIL led to the Supreme Court ordering the setting up of a committee to advice on the course of 'Police Reforms', out of which came the Soli Sorabjee Committee report, had made a positive reference to the 'new Karnataka Police Act' draft, in an article published in the New Indian Express, over a month back.

In view of the new developments, the passing of this Act, and faithful and immediate implementation of rules thereunder, has gained great significance. However, nothing has been heard from the state home ministry in the matter. The fear now is that this draft may also just get shelved like so many before it.

Muralidhar Rao

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Holistic revamp needed

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In our own backyard, in terms of law and order, fundamentalist outfits like Bajrang Dal, Kannada Rakshana Vedike, Hoysala Sene etc, all nonstate actors, created fear in society by their self appointed task of moral policing.

As far as the self-appointed policemen are concerned they have continued to take the law into their hands and play havoc with the established order. Instead of taking them head on and showing their place, the state is vacating space for them to operate. This portends ill for the future.

Strengthening the human component is of utmost importance if we have to tackle any of these problems effectively.

Through whimsical transfers and postings on criteria other than merit, police in Karnataka is totally demoralised. Officers have very short tenures in police stations which many times could be counted in months and days.

And even in cases of taking the correct action as per law, they have to think several times as to how it would affect influential people. The manner in which they have been dealing with the vigilante, allowing them to bash up innocent people while they sheepishly looked on is an indication of the state of affairs. The leadership did not get well-acquainted too. It had not been able to come out and affirm at critical times that it would uphold law at all costs.

Therefore the most important thing if we have to meet the grave challenges confronting us is to upgrade the police force making it professional, competent, committed and satisfied. This can be done by restoring primacy, which has eroded over the years, to the leadership of the force and giving the men their due, promoting merit and functional independence as per law. This is the biggest challenge before the government for without meeting this no other challenge can be met with effectively.

The above are the extartcs of an article by Mr S Mariswamy, former Commissioner of Police, Bangalore. For the full text, click on:


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Non-state players rule our country too

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'The reluctant fundamentalist' could just as well be a description of the Oxford Bookstore in Mumbai's Churchgate area as the title of last year's Booker-nominated novel by Pakistan-born author Mohsin Hamid.

The store has taken books by Pakistani authors off its shelves following "friendly advice" from police. The store was asked to take precautions in the light of Raj Thackeray's "ban" on Pakistani artists, the same Raj Thackeray who was conspicuous by his absence anywhere on the political scene for over a month after 26/11.

Store manager Girish Thakur said, "Ten days ago, a policeman from the Marine Drive police station dropped in at our store and told us to be careful. He advised us to remove books and CDs related to Pakistan, as we may be targeted after the recent terror strikes in Mumbai. He reminded us of Raj Thackeray's ban on Pakistani artists".

Thakur says he is opposed to banning books, whatever the reason. "People who love books should be allowed the freedom to read literature from across the world so that they get different perspectives on an issue," he said. He added that the books would be back on the shelves once he was assured he could.

For more, click on:

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Need to overhaul Police Act - Srikumar

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The archaic Police Act, 1861 needs to be amended so that the force is revamped and modernized to tackle present day crimes, former Karnataka DG & IGP R Srikumar said on Friday.

"The criminal justice system has broken down. Many get away with crime. There is a need for technology-oriented, modern, management-driven and people-friendly policing", he said.

He was speaking at the valedictory of the 32nd All India Criminology Conference organized by the Indian Society of Criminology and Bangalore University. The event focused on science, technology, law and criminal justice.

For the full report, click on:

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Govt defying SC directions

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According to an officer, also a member of the board, the government has issued a circular to all government departments to finalise the transfer of officials before June 30. Following this, the board began the transfer process and brought out the list of 64 DySPs. “However, the same government is giving some ‘political’ reason and has stayed the order. The board was started according to the Supreme Court’s strictures and the government is now not obeying it,” he said.

In June 2009, the state Cabinet gave its nod to setting up a PEB to decide on transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters of police officers of or below the rank of DSP. When the Justice Thomas Committee visited Bangalore, the home minister and other officials had assured that the government would set up the board, free of political influences, said an officer.

For the full report in the New Indian Express, click here

Back to its bad old ways, I guess.


Muralidhar Rao
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dire need

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The problem is compounded by a police force that is not only highly corrupt and willing to do the dirty work of political masters but is also lacking in forensic and investigative skills. It depends mainly on third degree measures to solve cases. An outrageous 1,500 persons died in police custody last year, and only the naïve will believe that these were mostly natural deaths.

For the full text of the blog by Mr S A Aiyar in the Sunday ToI, click here.

A tragic record for a country that supposedly takes pride in its being the largest democracy in the world. The need for reforms has become dire.

Muralidhar Rao
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Police Complaints Authority instituted

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Victims of police brutality can now lodge a complaint for any grievances like misconduct, arrest or detention without due process of law, custodial death and abuse of power to the newly formed Karnataka Police Complaints Authority (KPCA). - - - Apart from Justice MP Chinnappa, former judge of the high court, who is chairperson of KPCA, the other members are IGP (grievances and human rights) Alok Kumar, retired IAS officer Abhay Prakash and IPS officer Malini Krishnamurthy. "We are in the process of identifying a member from the civil society,'' Justice Chinappa said.

Any citizen can file a complaint with KPCA by post or at its office (room No 36/37) in Vikasa Soudha. KPCA will come out with its email ID.

The Supreme Court in 2006 had directed all states to establish KPCA in all states. But the Karnataka government acted on it three years later by appointing RJ Babu, retired judge of the high court, as its chairperson on September 7, 2009. But the KPCA did not become functional because of legal and technical reasons.

To remove such hurdles, the government in June 2012 issued an ordinance amending the Karnataka Police Act, thus incorporating the provision for constitution of the KPCA, and in August 2012, the ordinance was replaced with an act, Section 20 (C) of which deals with detailed provision for setting up of PCA and DPCAs.

"Our job is not only to inquire into complaints of serious misconduct against police personnel received from a victim but also those by the state and national human rights commission. If the officers are found to be guilty we will communicate the findings to the police commissioner or the district superintendent of police with a recommendation to register an FIR and initiate departmental action,'' Justice Chinnappa said.

For the full report in the ToI, click here.

Finally, the government seems to have got its act together in the matter - better late than never. The talk all along has been about a "Police Accountability Authority". I presume it's only a change in nomenclature.

A question that arises here is that, when a body of such high-ranking officials is constituted, shouldn't it be entrusted with more responsibilities than merely attending to complaints, particularly when there is besides the KSHRC (Karnataka State Human Rights Commission) supposedly doing an almost similar job? Any and everyone will concede that there are many things wrong with the policing in the state. As such, cannot this august body play a more proactive role to addresss the various issues involved?

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half-hearted exercise?

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However, so far the PCA has not held any inquiry against the police, based on the complaints. The reason: lack of infrastructure and staff strength. Chinnappa points that there are only three people working presently. The government is yet to appoint staff to the PCA. These three are outsourced staff. Appointment letter from the government has not been given to them so far.

The PCA has no power to fine or suspend guilty police personnel. Justice Chinnappa adds that the authority doesn’t have the powers to take action against the erring police official. The PCA will present the report to the government and recommend the action to be taken. The orders are to be issued by the government.

A member from civil society is also to be appointed to the PCA, which isn’t done so far.

For the full report in Citizen Matters, click here.

Apparently, nothing much happening there, yet. And, it can happen only when there is a proper commitment from the polity, which is a big ask.

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