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First Information Report

Today's Times of India carried the following article of interest. It is not uncommon for public to face rude police behavior. Not registering an FIR is simply unjust. This is a very irritating matter and has to be tackled.

Cops understand only crack of whip, says Supreme Court, 9 Aug 2008, 0001 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra,TNN (Link: Register FIR or face jail: SC to cops):

Stating that officials in India understood only the "crack of a whip", the apex court on Friday ordered that a policeman turning away a person without registering his complaint could face contempt of court charges and cool his heels in jail if he failed to justify non-registration of the FIR.

[PS: moved to frontpage, this could be the start of buildup towards long pending Police reforms {blr_editor}]

silkboard's picture

The progress on urgently needed police reforms

This one about FIRs aside, there are two potentially game-changing things waiting to happen. We are not into journalism here, but these are important things for folks to be aware of.

Initiating from a case known as "Prakash Singh and Others Vs Union of India", Supreme Court had laid down some directives in late 2006. These included:

  • a State Security Commission to ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police ...
  • ... Minimum tenure of two years for DGP ... SP in-charge of a district, and Station House Officers in-charge of a police station
  • a Police Establishment Board, which will decide all transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of police officers ... and make recommendations on postings and transfers of officers.
  • independent Police Complaints Authorities at the state and district levels to look into public complaints against police officers

Notice the attempts to free police from state government's 'influences', and the last one (Complaints Authority) to give people some escape route. Personally, based on the shallow reading that I have done, I feel the last one is not needed if all else is done right. Police itself is the Complaints Authority for us. Lets fix it, why have another one on top? What if the new Compliant Authority doesn't function well, will we again need another one on top!?

Next and not to mix it up with above, in 2005, GoI had setup what is popularly called Soli Sorabjee committee to draft Model Police act. This committee submitted a report in late 2006, but futher action is awaited.

These are important things to be aware of. Google and read more at leisure. Here is how I have been enlightening myself:

psaram42's picture

Police Reforms

It was a great update provided by silkboard on the subject of Police Reforms! The links provided very use full information on Police functioning and the need for reforms, in the Police force. However these would take their own course and time, as they are obviously not in our direct control. The issue is to identify positive course of action to improve the quality of life in Bangalore, with the existing/current state of affairs, to start with. I agree that there is a need for public opinion buildup against delay in much needed Police reforms. Praja has provided an excellent platform towards this. We are definitely not in to journalism. Well said silkboard.

The common man should be made  aware that Police cannot refuse to register FIR without a valid reason. Next time if the need comes one has to take the assistance of a capable lawyer to get the FIR registered. Senior Police officers of IPS cadre who are well educated will definitely like to be identified with the honest common man when he is on the right side of the law. If I think about it, there is no reason for any person in the Police force, not to be with the law abiding Common Man.


silkboard's picture

Why would you say that sir?

However these would take their own course and time, as they are obviously not in our control

Ananth sir, one reason those big sounding reforms are pending is - it's not a subject under central governmnet control. State's have to work with center on them. Second reason - there isn't enough public awareness and pressure.

We have to do whatever we can to increase the awareness around those pending reforms. What we get entirely depends on our awareness levels and expectations. Nobody other than "us" has greater interest in making these subjects popular - media is mostly happy selling stings and scams, netas are busy doing what we project to be the most imporatnt thing, (they don't have time for it all), and most of middle class is happy making money and leading cozy lives in its "shells". Sorry, I overdid that ;)

Next time we organize a Praja meeting with a police officer, lets remember to ask their opinions on these pending reforms. I think nobody will say things on-the-record, but we will still ask and try.

murali772's picture

could happen to anyone!

SB - you have provoked me into partly breaking a promise I made to a freind not to bring up the story involving his son into the open, since amongst other things he is afraid it will affect the son's marriage prospects. And, mind you, that's no laughing matter in the Indian context. I have therefore deliberately brought in a few inaccuracies to mask it as far as possible, even though the essence remains as it is. Here it goes:

While non-registration of FIRs is serious enough an issue, high-handedness on the part of police officials is also an equally serious matter. I know of a certain instance in the recent past when two young executives, working for a multi-national, were roughed up by a constable, and, on top of it all, charged under Sec 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), and sent to jail for two full days.

They were, to begin with, victims of a hit & run incident, which occured on a 2nd Friday morning on the way to their work place. The constable, who was not far from the scene, instead of helping them out of their predicament, started abusing them for no reason at all. One of the boys then took a picture of the constable using his phone camera. Fearing that they may be intending to lodge a complaint against him, he went on the offensive, roughed them up, called a HOYSALA, and bundled them off to the nearest police station. In the process, he injured a finger, and used it to charge the boys under Sec 332. When the father of one of the boys arrived on the scene, the constable and his colleagues started various games in order to try and extract the maximum money out of him. With his not being quite familiar with the game, the cops deliberately delayed the process of presenting the boys before the court, leading eventually to their being remanded to judicial custody. And, being a 2nd Friday, the father could manage to engage a lawyer and get them out on bail only on the following Monday, the next working day.

After spending nearly a lakh so far on lawyers, and on 'mamools' (not small sums as the name would suggest) in the police station, court, and jail, the families are now left to fight a difficult court battle against the police who know best how to load the case in their favour. It's a lose-lose proposition all the way. A high profile lawyer could possibly get them out of it. But, he comes with a heavy price tag. That's the prospect they are faced with today in order to ensure that the boys' careers are not jeopardised in any way.

I had heard of such stories during the emergency, way back in the seventies. But, this was in January '08 Bangalore.

The boys' experience in Prapana Agrahara jail is something one of them is planning to write a book on after he recovers from the trauma, which is haunting him and his colleague and the respective families, even today.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
silkboard's picture

Can this drive first Praja street gathering?

Murali sir - sad story indeed. I am very tempted to write a story (from a very close source) involving CBI and a High Court Judge. But I won't, and will keep it off the record, and share next time we meet.

I think Praja is still small for this kind of thing, but let me ask. How many will be game to organize our first street event - an "awareness rally" to increase urgency towards police reforms?

When you say "infrastructure", most people think roads, power or water. Law and Order is a basic component of 'infrastructure', its the enabler for all. However, I am often surprised to see (foreign press does it more often) law and order (legal system actually, not law and order) being mentioned as an okay point of our country. You don't see as much talk on law and order in intellectual party gossip as well, I think its because compared to things like roads and traffic, most of us don't get to "directly" deal with enforcement systems. Other reason could be that its a sensitive subject to work on, and many have fears driven by the perception drawn by the movies.

We don't have to get into discussing whats wrong, or get into the territory of human rights, police atrocities etc. We just need to drive the point that reforms are due, and due very urgently. Lets check with GoK on what they think of this urgency. May be, may be, that they'll tell us that things aren't as bad as movies or stray incidents show them to be, perhaps they will have good and so-far-unknown stats to share. But lets try and ask.

Doable? Risky business?

psaram42's picture

Awareness Rally

I think we should discuss in person the subject of pending Police Reforms in a small get together, before we could arrange for the Rally itself. The subject under discussion requires serious deliberation of a viable plan of action to achive the final goal. A small personal get together may be in order. I am game for it.

murali772's picture

CHRI meeting

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is expected to convene a meeting in Bangalore soon for planning out the future strategy and advocacy for better policing in Karnataka. The meeting we will discuss further actions of the campaign, and also discuss the recent developments in Kerala where the Police Act Drafting Committee has posted their Draft Police Bill on internet and invited comments from the public.

Simultaneously, they are also holding Lectures, and launching two reports on
a) Feudal Forces: Democratic Nations: Police Accountability in Commonwealth South Asia and
b) Stamping Out Rights: The Impact of anti-terrorism laws on policing

I have been invited for these, and CHRI will be happy to extend invitations to others interested in participating. As soon as the finalised dates are informed to me, I shall pass it on.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
tsubba's picture

Feudal Forces

Feudal Forces what sort of a language is that? seems straight out of a naxal pamphlet signed by gangagadhara of KA CPIML. garden of eden is free only in books. in reality all freedom rests on everybody agreeing on certain common covenants and honour codes. we have passed that even that stage a long time ago. call me bourgeois call me what ever, i would rather work with the police, rather than harangue them with theories. because if tomorrow something happens, they are the first line of defense, these guys will pack their laptops go to the next town, but our police will stay here with us.
murali772's picture

strengthening moderation

CHRI, if I have understood correctly, is a lot more balanced in its approach, unlike those of the many 'jjholawala' organisations. And, by participating, I am hoping to strengthen the forces of moderation.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
tsubba's picture

Important amendments to KA Police act

Amendments to be made to the Karnataka Police Act, 1963 The Hindu
Highly placed sources in the Home Department told The Hindu on Wednesday that in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court, the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill is being drafted to amend the Karnataka Police Act. An important amendment is being incorporated to ensure a fixed tenure for police officers of certain ranks. Accordingly, an amendment is being made to the Act to fix a two-year term for the DG & IGP. Once the amendments are made and the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill is approved by the legislature, the DG & IGP would have tenure of two years irrespective of his/her retirement age. A committee headed by the DG & IGP is working on amendments to the four-decade-old Act. The Bill would be tabled in next session of the legislature if the committee completed its work by then, the sources said. The amendments are being made according to the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in September 2006 in regard to a writ petition (No. 310/1996) that was filed by Prakash Singh and others against the Union Government. Security council According to the sources, another important amendment that is being made to the Act is to provide for establishing a State security council to monitor the functioning of the Police Department. The Home Minister would be the chairman of the proposed council which would have the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, a retired High Court judge, the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and two non-officials as members, and the DG & IGP as member-secretary. While suggesting amendments to the Act, the committee headed by the DG & IGP would focus on ensuring transparency in the functioning of the Police Department. Besides, certain archaic rules and regulations in the current Act would be removed, the sources said.
murali772's picture

sounds good

Sounds good - I think I will check with the IGP if he can place it before the public, before placing it before the legislature for approval.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
sanchitnis's picture

Himachal residents can SMS an FIR

Himachal Pradesh started the register FIR online facility and this year they plan to introduce FIR by SMS. Read this -  himachal residents can sms an fir

This article however says that there are very few takers for it! I am not sure what happens to the FIR sent by email. If it is not registered automatically, there the citizens definitely will not feel like using the service.


kbsyed61's picture

How about changes in Judicial System !

SB, you have rightly pointed out to the fact that, In Indian context, law and order is entirely considered an alien system to the civil society. On top of it law and order for majority is only refers to Policing and enforcement. Somehow "legal system" is left out of this important domain. Actually the legal system/judiciary is part and parcel of the law and order system. For a good law and order system both police and judiciary needs to play the role they are designated with.

 India, as a democratic country is progressing with its democratic institutions, the institution of Law and order also has to progress to match with the changing dynamics. While it is a welcome trend to see/read about upcoming reforms in Police department, for the equation to be complete, there is an urgent need for radical changes in Judicial system also.It doesn't behove of a democratic country to have the courts right from munsif court to supreme court loaded with100s of thousand of cases pending for decades. The list of things that needs urgent attention runs long. If you would like to delay something, for right or wrong reasons, just file a law suit. Now PILs are filed to stall some urgently needed projects and works. In majority of cases, the judgement doesn't get delivered before cool 5-7 years if lucky. 

 How can we take pride in a society where a riot/blast victim waits for 2 decades to get to hear the conviction/not guilty verdict. Over time, the right or wrong will lose its significance. Also how can one remember things that have taken place years ago. We should move towards a speedy judicial system wherein cases are adjadicated within shortest possible time. Any delay in the judgment/trial is not only against rule of law, but also we are wasting precious resources like money, time spent and not to talk about victims pain and sufferings.

 Let me give you my knowledge about 2 cases here in US. One pertains to high profile case. The whole trial period since the arrest to the sentencing was delivered in about 9 months. This is at Federal Level. This case involved lot of federal agencies and there were 11 accused in the case. All the accused were arraigned withing a week fo arrests. Trial started after 4 or 5 months of the arraignments. The actual trial hearings took about 6 to 8 weeks. Judgement was delivered within a month. The trial hearing were conducuted on daily basis non-stop. There were no postponement or adjournment except at the end of the day.

Recently, there was a case of assault between 2 individuals. This was filed at the State's district court. The trial was fixed within the 2 months of the filing fo charges. The trial hearing was finished within an hour and the judgement was delivered. So within 2 months of filing charges, the case was heard and judgement delivered.

 Without a good judicial system wherein the cases are judged within the shortest time, police reforms would not deliver the desired results. As the time passes even the witnesses looses interest in the case and situations might make them hostile. Ask the police officers who puts all their efforts in arresting and bring it to court. In the court, the case just takes months and months to decide. Don't ask about the civil cases and cases relating to state and federal taxes. They would be lingering there for years and years. Just visit sales tax court in Bangalore.

Here the blame need not be at the Judges or Lawyers but at the whole system which allows for such pathetic environment.

 Police enforce ment and legal system are 2 sides of the same coin. Both sides need polishing.


psaram42's picture

How about changing ... ourselves?

I agree with tarlesubba:"Call me bourgeois call me what ever, I would rather work with the police, rather than harangue them with theories". Probably we have what we deserve, at the best. The Judicial system needs to be improved against deteriorations, the elected representatives of the government need to improve and the list goes on. The Chinese have become no 1 in Olympic Games leaving behind USA. We were dreaming of further gold in the Beijing Olympics after winning first one, after so many years of drought. Governments went head over heals to announce lacks of Rupees to Abhinav Bindra who is stingingly rich already. I am afraid I am being an incorrigible pessimist. The only way is to work with the Police/government and help them to help us.
murali772's picture

honge kamyaab, aek din!


PRAJA is trying to do its bit. Perhaps you have missed this post

Further, the courts have been experimenting with fast-track processes for some cases on a trial basis. It worked very well in the recent case involving the rape and murder of an elderly foreigner lady in the vicinity of the Delhi airport by two taxi men. The conviction (death sentence) happened in record time.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
kbsyed61's picture

Need more than cosmetic changes !

Murali Sir,

 I did go thru' the post on "Mediation ....". Great efforts and appreciable enthusiasm.

I am very positive that, all the efforts that are now being done from various quarters would bear fruit one day.

 W.r.t changes in judicial system, the need is overall changes in the system the way judicial activities takes place. I am not sure what is required to bring about those changes. Some body with judicial domain exeperience can educate us on this. I am sure with new tech tools available, certainly changes can be brought in the judicial system at faster pace. Given the complexity and seriuosness of matters, I am sure changes can be tried out in courts in the bottom of the prizm - Munsif Courts at Taluq Head quarters. Can you brouch this subject with CJ when you meet him?



murali772's picture

Experts to evaluate jails

Hopefully, gone are the days when jails were considered dark dungeons and prisoners forgotten after being locked up. The government is now looking for global consultancy majors to judge how India treats its over 3.58 lakh prisoners.

That a jail has also to be architected never seem to have occurred to the powers that be in Karnataka. So much so, even in the new Bangalore jail complex at Parappana Agrahara, constructed just a few years back, the facilities remain primitive, leading to an agitation by the inmates just last week. Trust the Central initiative wakes up our people too.

For more, click on

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

CHRI meet - 19th & 20th

Police Reforms in Karnataka - invitations to CSO meeting on 19 Sep 2008 and panel discussion 20 Sep 2008 in Bangalore

1) Civil Society Meeting on 19th September 2008 at Alternative Law Forum from 5.45 pm - 8 pm discussing possible strategies for a campaign on better policing in Karnataka and

2) Panel discussion "Police Reforms for the 21st Century" on 20th September at the Atria Hotel from 5 pm - 7 pm

Muralidhar Rao

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