Tuesday October 16, 2018
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#FightBribeGetBricks: Despotic behavior of Delhi Police is due to lack of accountability

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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.

What’s Wrong?

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.

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India Gets A Win, Supreme Court Decriminalizes Homosexuality

In December 2013, a Supreme Court bench said that it was for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of IPC.

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Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

 In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday decriminalised homosexuality between consenting adults by declaring Section 377, the penal provision which criminalised gay sex, as “manifestly arbitrary”.

In separate but unanimous verdicts, a five-judge Constitution Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra partially struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as unconstitutional.

The bench said it is no longer an offence for LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, intersex and queer/questioning) community to engage in consensual sex between two adults in private.

Reading out the judgment, Chief Justice Misra said attitudes and mentality have to change to accept others’ identity and accept what they are, and not what they should be.

Homosexuality, India
LGBTIQ people have a right to live unshackled from the shadow.
Pixabay

“It is the constitutional and not social morality which will prevail,” said the court.

The verdict sparked celebrations in the LGBTIQ community across India even as the judgment was being read out. Many of the community members who had assembled outside the apex court jumped in joy and distributed sweets.

Chief Justice Misra said consensual sex between adults in a private space, which is not harmful to women or children, cannot be denied as it is a matter of individual choice.

Section 377 will not apply to consensual same-sex acts between homosexuals, heterosexuals, lesbians, the court said, clarifying that sexual act without consent and bestiality will continue to be an offence under section 377.

“An individual has full liberty over his or her body and his or her sexual orientation is a matter of one’s choice,” said the Chief Justice.

“Time to bid adieu to prejudicial perceptions deeply ingrained in social mindset. Time to empower LGBTIQ community against discrimination. They should be allowed to make their choices,” he added.

Homosexuality, India
In separate but unanimous verdicts, a five-judge Constitution Bench struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as unconstitutional. Pixabay

 

In a concurring judgement, Justice Nariman said homosexuality is “not a mental disorder or disease”.

He said the LGBTIQ community has an equal right to live with dignity and are entitled to equal protection of law. He directed the Centre to give wide publicity to this judgment to remove the stigma attached to homosexuality.

Justice Chandrachud said to deny the LGBTIQ community their right to sexual orientation is a denial of their citizenship and a violation of their privacy.

“They cannot be pushed into obscurity by an oppressive colonial legislation… Sexual minorities in India have lived in fear, hiding as second class citizens,” said Justice Chandrachud, adding “the state has no business to intrude on such matters”.

Justice Indu Malhotra said that history owes an apology to the LGBTIQ community for all that they have suffered on account of the ignorance of the majority about homosexuality.

“LGBTIQ people have a right to live unshackled from the shadow,” she said.

Homosexuality, India
People Participated in Hundreds for the Gay Pride Parade Held In Delhi.

The Supreme Court verdict, which overruled its own earlier judgment, assumes significance as in the earlier round of litigation in 2013, the top court had reversed a Delhi High Court ruling decriminalising homosexuality.

The Delhi High Court bench, headed by then Chief Justice A.P. Shah, had in July 2009 legalised homosexual acts between consenting adults by overturning the 149-year-old law — finding it unconstitutional and a hurdle in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In December 2013, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya in the Suresh Kumar Koushal and another vs Naz Foundation and others case, had set aside the high court’s judgment and said that it was for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of IPC.

The matter was subsequently resurrected in July 2016, when a fresh petition was filed by members of the LGBTIQ community — dancer N.S. Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath and business executive Ayesha Kapur — which was then marked to the Constitution Bench by a Division Bench.

Homosexuality, India
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The reference was made on the basis of submission that it was the first time that individuals directly affected by the provision were approaching the court.

Among the petitioners are a batch of current and former students of Indian Institutes of Technology. Claiming to represent more than 350 LGBTIQ alumni, students, staff and faculty from the IITs, the petitioners said that the existence of Section 377 had caused them “mental trauma and illnesses, such as clinical depression and anxiety and relegated some of them to second-class citizenship”. (IANS)