Police reforms are urgent

One of the first directives was to ensure that the force meant for law and order and the force meant for investigation would not be separate. This would have ensured that police probing the Malegaon blasts were not pressed in to fight the militants.

The suggested reforms were:
1. To set up a police establishment board to decide all transfers, postings and promotions of officers below the rank of deputy superintendent and this would ensure that there is a complete halt to political interference in posting of police officers.
2. To set up a National Security Commission to prepare a panel for selection and placement of chiefs of the central police organisations.
3. Police chiefs should be given a maximum of two year tenure.
4. To set up independent police complaint authorities to look into public complaints against police officers and set up of state security commissions.
All these directives were spelt out in 2006, 10 years after two former DGPs N K Singh and Prakash Singh filed a PIL in this regard.
So far the Union government has set up a law drafting committee under former solicitor general of India, Soli Sorabjee, which has submitted a draft Model Police Act to the ministry.
Just 10 states have assured the court that they would implement the directives in their new police legislation. J&K government has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court of India few years back expressing its inability towards police reforms. The reason stated in the affidavit is the “security situation” in J&K. It still follows the Police Act of 1861, a law drafted in the colonial times.
In too many countries, governments are failing in their primary duty to provide the public with an honest, efficient, effective police service that ensures the rule of law and an environment of safety and security. Today, membership to the Commonwealth is promised to countries practicing democracy and democratic governance requires democratic policing. The only legitimate policing is the one that helps create an environment free from fear and conducive to the realization of peoples’ human rights.
The existing police systems in many Commonwealth states including India and Pakistan are a legacy of colonial rule that have been shaped by post-colonial histories. The consequences of poor policing include brutality and torture, extra-judicial executions, a lack of due process, impunity, corruption, bias and discrimination and public fear, anger and resentment.
There are some inspiring examples of governments and police organizations working towards reform. Police is some countries have undergone varying degrees of modernization and transformation. Impetus for reform has generally arisen out of public concern over rising crime or from incidents of police abuse or failure, accompanied by a willingness to learn and address changing contexts.

Democratic Policing
Democratic nations need democratic policing, which gives practical meaning to the Commonwealth’s promise of democracy and good governance and is applicable to any context – rich or poor, large or small, diverse or homogeneous.
Critical to the success of democratic policing is the principle that the police should be held accountable: not just by government, but by a wider network of agencies and organizations, working on behalf of the interests of the people, within a human rights framework.
Democratic policing is both a process and an outcome. The democratic values lay down a sound foundation for the development of democratic policing.
A democratic police organization is
a. Accountable to the law and not a law unto itself.
b. Accountable to democratic government structures and the community.
c. Transparent in its activities.
d. Gives top operational priority to protect the safety and rights of individuals and private groups.
e. Protects human rights.
f. Provides society with professional services.
g. Is representative of the community it serves.
Jammu & Kashmir needs drastic police reforms. We have a practical example of Shopiyan before us. Just a delay in filing a simple FIR resulted in death of many more innocent people across the valley. Hundreds were injured. Tourism suffered a jolt and our business is still hit. Above all the victim families are being denied justice, just to shield few criminals who are none other than our own so called security forces. The decision of the state government to suspend few police officers is mere an eyewash. They must ensure arrest of all the culprits and send them behind bars. Police is meant for our safety but what is being observed in some south Asian countries and especially here in our state is that one feels terrorized while police officials start questioning a you over petty issues. All this must end and our Chief Minister must seriously think over reforming J&K Police and implement the Supreme Court directives on Police reforms in letter and Spirit.
The author is a social activist associated with an NGO, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)

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