Re: CHRI: Eminent Citizens Urge Political Parties to Take Up PoliceReforms
Dear Mr Patnaik:
the present position is that policing, law and order are state subjects. Solely in the purview of state legislative competence. But the union government has the police in the capital other union territories and the paramilitaries under its competence. But the Central government also has not moved to implement its own Model Police Act which it created. By the way that act is good in most respects but it is weak on making the police accountable for wrong doing.
Setting up any constitutional authority would be very difficult and require changes in the Constitution which would be stoutly resisted by the state governments and goes against the notion of decentralisation. We, are seeking to get PRACTICAL CHANGES IN POLICING NOW. However most recently after the Mumbai blasts the GOI has set up the National Investigation Agency. We are presently analysing the Act and will post it on the web and on this list serv as soon as practicable.
The Home Minister Chidambaram has called a meeting of CMs on 6th January to convince about this. I think to make them buy into the idea.We have made an attempt to brief all the principle secretaries and home ministers and chief ministers about this and sent them materials which I am happy to share if you want it. It is difficult you will appreciate to have a national investigative agency when were is no concept of a federal crime as there is in the USA. But at the same time its important to be able to coordinate the workings of all governments and intelligence agencies when dealing with terrorism whether home grown or from abroad.
While appreciating that there must be a response to terrorism, CHRI's position has been that we need good everyday policing from our police force for all the people all the time. Not the policing that we have today. For this we need: changes in the way the police are governed - legitimate scrutiny, good provisioning and no patronage and interference in transfers and career paths but only general direction on policy matters on behalf of the people with operational responsibility with the chief of police; we need changes in the way police are managed by their own adminstration and leaders. That is to say we need the police to decide with inputs from the public what the goals of policing in an area should be. Then their performance can be reviewed at the end of the year. There must be public involvement in the creation of policing plans, against those plans the police must be given men, training, equipment and then there must be objective indicators against which their performance must be judged. All this can be put before the assembly and reviewed so that everyday performance improves year by year. Finally the police must be accountable. As you can see from above they must be accountable both for delivering good everyday policing to the satisfaction of the people but there also must be mechanisms for ensuring that wrongdoing is duely and fairly punished. So there must be civilian oversight, which means they have to be accountable only to the law. The way this has to be done is to make sure they are brought to book whenever they do wrong: through parliamentary oversight, through human rights commissions, through new complaints authorities that are local and close to people at district and state level; and through much more transparent internal inquiry systems.
If all this is done with honesty of purpose we will have a world class police. The Supreme Court Orders to the state and centre have said just this must be done. But there is no political will to take reforms in the police forward. At present there has been little compliance with the Courts orders. I would like to suggest some action points for people reading this:
There is a monitoring committee set up under K. T. Thomas which is asking the states what they have done to comply with the SC orders. They will be submitting their report to the SC by March I think. The Committee needs citizens like the ones reading this note to get involved with informing them about developments in the states.Write to the Commitee and to the State government indicating you want them to obey the Supreme Courts orders
Contact political parties and your local MP who will be campaiging for your vote and insist that police reforms of the type the Court has mandated become an election promise in their manifestos and that they say what changes they are going to bring in in the first 100 days of the next government.
Get questions asked in the Assemblies about the extent of compliance with the SC orders
hold meetings with your own friends and networks to explain where the situation is at present and discuss how to take it forward and more into the public. This is a most important activity because people are not used to talking about police reforms. We will be glad to offer what assistance a little team can.
Hope this is useful to you and other readers,
Maja Daruwala Director Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative B-117, First Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave New Delhi, INDIA, 110017 Tel No 91 11 26864678:26850523 (O) __._,_.___
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