By Ishan Kukreti
Law and order are the basis on which a city functions and police is the main player in this process. It instills fear in the heart of criminals and makes the masses feel safe. However, the video floating on social media of a Delhi Traffic Police personnel hitting a woman full-force with a brick, has raised prominent questions on the character and accountability of Delhi Police.
The rude and crude Delhi Police
However, this isn’t a new thing. Delhi police has been under the scanner a lot of times for custodial deaths, refusal to file FIR, asking bribes etc.
According to the statistics released by the Public Grievance Cell, as many as 26 complaints are filed against Delhi Police daily. Last year 2,186 complaints were filed against Delhi Police. Majority of these were related to rude behaviour and bribe demands. Surprisingly, more than 60% of the complaints filed are still pending, with no action being taken against the defaulting official.
A major reason for the despotic behavior of ‘friendly’ Delhi Police is lack of accountability.
Right now the police in Delhi is under the Central government as is the case with all Union Territories. However, given the population and size of Delhi, managing the largest metropolitan police force of the world puts an immense burden on MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs). The fact that the Home Ministry is doing a sloppy job is palpable in the complaints against Delhi Police and their pending status, along with all the recorded and unrecorded instances of police brutality in Delhi.
The law governing police in India is an archaic British Law, Indian Police Act, 1861. Since then, apart from a few inconsequential changes, the ‘Inspector Raj’ has been continuing unhindered.
National Police Commission was constituted in 1979 which has time and again given relevant recommendations to the government for improving the condition of police, but no change has been initiated yet.
Even the Supreme Court’s judgment in Prakash Singh vs. Union of India (2006), had directed the Centre along with the states to initiate police reforms. Nine years since, the matter has yet not been taken up in any serious manner.
Court’s guidelines, focusing on achieving functional autonomy of the police (through security of tenure, streamlined appointment and transfer processes, and the creation of a “buffer body” between the police and the government) and enhanced police accountability (for organizational performance and individual misconduct) could have acted as a revitalizing force for the department, but in the utter unwillingness of the government, they haven’t found a substantial say.
How about Delhi Police under Delhi government?
Needless to say, for a UT of the size of Delhi, the control over the police force is not an unjustified demand. Handing the force over to Delhi government would not only bring in more accountability but will also cut down the red-tapism in the force.
Moreover, the chief minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal is ready to bear the burden of the department. The centre is not able to do the same and hence it should keep aside its political reasons and bring Delhi Police under Delhi Government.
Start Police Reforms
It’s never too late to initiate a progressive change. The Supreme Court directives have been gathering dust for a long time now and now the government has a reason to take them up again.
The government has a treasure trove of guidelines and recommendations by Supreme Court and the National Police Commission, which it has chosen to turn a blind eye to for so long. If it decides to break its lethargy and procrastination a lot of positive changes can be brought about in the police force, not only in increasing its efficiency but in also making it more accountable.
The given condition of force is such that the people are more scared of the police than the criminals, filing FIR is just a perfunctory job as nothing is ever retrieved, Delhi Police constables are seen harassing bikers on the roads.
It won’t be wrong to say that the people have lost their faith in the police and today’s incident just goes on to show that they are not wrong in their assessment.