Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Supreme Court: Ensure complete police autonomy

Supreme Court: Ensure complete police autonomy

Legal Correspondent

Petty political interference to blame for deficiencies in functioning


  • Set up commissions for selection of personnel
  • States asked to separate law and order, and investigation
  • New bodies must be in place by new year

    New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre and the States to set up security commissions for selection and appointment of personnel and to ensure complete autonomy in police administration.

    A Bench comprising Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Justice C.K. Thakker and Justice P.K. Balsubramanyan gave a series of directions on a petition filed by Prakash Singh and others seeking implementation of the reports of various police commissions and the draft report of the Soli Sorabjee Committee set up in September 2005.

    Reports on paper

    Opinions strongly expressed by various commissions had remained only on paper. The popular perception was that standards deteriorated in the policing system as a whole, the judges said.

    "The popular perception all over the country appears to be that many of the deficiencies in the functioning of the police have arisen largely due to an overdose of unhealthy and petty political interference at various levels starting from transfer and posting of policemen of different ranks, misuse of police for partisan purposes and political patronage quite often extended to corrupt police personnel."

    Writing the judgment for the Bench, the Chief Justice directed that the national commission be set up to prepare a panel for being placed before the appropriate appointing authority for selection and placement of chiefs of the Central Police Organisations (CPOs), who should be given a minimum tenure of two years. The commission could be headed by the Union Home Minister and comprise heads of the CPOs and a couple of security experts as members with the Union Home Secretary as its secretary.

    The States should also set up such commissions to ensure that the State Government "does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police and for laying down the broad policy guidelines so that the State police always acts according to the laws of the land and the Constitution. This watchdog body shall be headed by the Chief Minister or the Home Minister and have the Director-General of Police as ex-officio secretary."

    DGP selection

    The State Government should select the DGP from among the three seniormost officers who were empanelled for promotion by the Union Public Service Commission. "Police officers on operational duties in the field like the Inspector-General in charge of the zone, DIGs in charge of the range, the Superintendent of Police in charge the district and station house officers shall also have a minimum tenure of two years."

    The Bench asked the States to separate `law and order' and `investigation' to ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people. "It must, however, be ensured that there is full coordination between the two wings."

    The court directed the States to set up a Police Establishment Board to decide all transfers, postings and promotions and other service-related matters of officers below the rank of Deputy Superintendent. There should be a Police Complaints Authority at the district level to look into grievances against officers up to the rank of DSP and at the State level for complaints against officers above the level of SP.

    Counsel Prashant Bhushan suggested that cases arising out of threats from international terrorism or organised crimes such as drug trafficking, money laundering, smuggling of weapons from across the borders and counterfeiting of currency, and cases with inter-State or international ramifications be entrusted to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

    Compliance report sought

    The Bench asked the Centre, the National Human Rights Commission, the Sorabjee Committee and the Bureau of Police Research and Development to examine these suggestions and give their views within four months. It directed the Centre and the States to comply with the directions by December 31, 2006 so that the various bodies became operational with the advent of the new year. The Union Cabinet Secretary and the Chief Secretaries of States and Union Territories should file compliance reports by January 3, 2007.

    © Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu

  • Date:23/09/2006 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2006/09/23/stories/2006092307451300.htm

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