“While talking about police reforms and accountability, we need to make sure that there is an effective mechanism like allowing people to register complaints without making them face consequences of it,” says senior counsel Mihir Desai. He was speaking at the 9th session under the “Police & You” series.
Moneylife Foundation with Police Reforms Watch and support from Saraswat Bank have launched the 12-week program (every Wednesday) that aims to spread knowledge about protecting yourself, your rights, the Indian Penal Code (IPC), cybercrime and economic offences. This was the 9th such session.
Adv Desai, who has been practicing in the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court in matters, especially in human rights and civil liberties work as well as service law, says, “While expecting accountability from police, we also need to understand the conditions under which they are made to work. Police are on duty virtually every time of the day and night. This is also extremely stressful job laden with interference from seniors and politicians. So both accountability and reforms need to work hand in hand to make it effective.”
The event was held in the well-appointed auditorium of Saraswat Bank headquarters, Eknath Thakur Bhavan.
The ninth session of the 12-week series on “The Police & You- Demanding Reforms and Accountability in Policing” was conducted by Adv Desai, Mr Sudhakar Suradkar former Inspector General of Police and Ms Maja Daruwala, Director of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).
Mr Suradkar, who, during his career spanning decades had arrested several top-notch criminals including Jayendra alias Bhai Thakur, a noted gangster from Vasai-Virar belt under TADA, says, “The fear of the police has waned. Corruption by some in the force is one of the reasons. Politicians are also responsible, as many elements are emboldened to do this because of political support.”
Talking about recent and increasing attacks on police personnel, the former IPS officer feels that the reason for such incidents may include corruption and unjust action taken by police against common citizens. Ms Zaduwala from CHRI feels that for better policing there is a need for three Ps, policy, provisioning for performance and participation by citizenry. “Police needs to keep active peace so that anybody can enjoy their constitutional rights,” she said. The CHRI Director also hit out at the Maharashtra government for the new internal security law. She said, “This law will cast suspicions on everyone. This is what we all have to fight with help from active citizenry.”
Ms Daruwala, who has been working to advocate for rights and social justice for over 30 years, feels the Police department, especially in Maharashtra faces manpower woes. She says, “Maharashtra has 165 police per one lakh population as against international minimum of 222. Even Delhi, Assam and Jharkhand have higher number of policemen compared with Maharashtra. There is a shortfall of nearly 8,000 policemen. Even this number tells only half the story. In Mumbai, about 56% of the police are on VIP duty.”
“Unfair rural-urban ratios, the unreasonable numbers deployed in service of VIPs, and the use of taxpayer-supported manpower as orderlies, drivers, guards and general saluting puppets by senior officers casts the burden of a great many core policing tasks onto the shoulders of just a very few,” she added.
According to Ms Daruwala, between 2002 and 2013, there is a 47% increase in complaints against the Police. This ranges from no record of disappearance of persons, illegal detention, fake encounter killings, extortion, torture, false implication, failure to take action, indignity to women, atrocities on SC and ST or others.
“What is required for the Police is accountability, operational independence, unbiased nature, efficiency and responsiveness,” she concluded.