ibnlive » India

Jan 06, 2010 at 12:17pm IST

Govt, civil society need to reform police

A third FIR was filed on Tuesday against former Haryana director general of police SPS Rathore in the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case. Rathore will also be stripped of his police medal after the Centre decided that all police officers convicted of moral turpitude should be stripped of their medals and awards. On Tuesday Rupan Deol Bajaj, former IAS officer who was sexually harassed by super cop KPS Gill, said that Gill should be stripped of his Padma Shri too.

CNN-IBN’s Face The Nation discussed: Top cops stripped of medals: Can the Government police the police?

On the panel of experts to debate the issue were former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, Congress MP and spokesperson Manish Tewari and lawyer and Human Rights activist Colin Gonsalves.

At the beginning of the show, 75 per cent of those who voted in said that the Government can police the police, while 25 per cent disagreed.

On whether Gill should be stripped of his Padma Shri, Kiran Bedi said that the offence was under the same section as in the case of SPS Rathore – Section 354 of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

"I think the same process (as in Rathore’s case) could be followed even for a cop who really led police force in very difficult times and the country recognises that. The matter could be placed before the board which is looking at Rathore’s case," added Bedi.

On this, Colin Gonsalves felt that taking away of medals from tainted officials certainly sent a signal of the Government’s disapproval of their conduct; however, he felt that it was a "small punishment" for those who engaged in crimes.

He said, "I think we should go a little back and look at how they were given medals in the first place."

The panel took up a twitter feedback that had come in saying, "How can corrupt politicians police the police, after all corrupt cops are valuable to the political establishment?"

Manish Tewari responded to the feedback and said, "It would be far better if we refrain from making generalisations because eventually in a democratic setup you function on the basis of checks and counter checks."

Mumbai police officers have been filmed partying at an underworld don’s New Year Eve party in Mumbai recently, which was hosted allegedly by an NCP activist.

"That is for the NCP to answer whether it was their member or not but eventually the cops who attended the party and not politicians. The Maharashtra Home Minister and the Chief Minister have taken action against them," said Tewari.

The functional autonomy of the police force conceded by the Supreme Court was raised in the discussion to which Kiran responded by saying, "If we would implement the SC judgment, it would raise responsibility with accountability and not give autonomy."

"The Security Commission which has been recommended by the SC judgment has the Home Minister as the chairperson, has the Leader of the Opposition, has civil society as a member, has a police officer and an IAS officer, which in fact is the autonomy to appoint the right kind of person," added Bedi.

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Who will police the police?

On this, Gonsalves said, "Neither the Government nor the autonomous body is going to control the police. The Supreme Court judgment is not a magic wand that will bring about any real change."

"The real issue is not autonomy, the real issue is corruption, torture and communalism. Who will root this out of the police force? The politician and the policemen are in bed together. The only people who have real interest in controlling the police are poor people and ordinary citizens," said Gonsalves.

Manish Tewari did not agree with Gonsalves’ point of view on the politicians and police being in bed together.

He said, "The people who pay the price for the police going berserk is the incumbent Government, and if police was such an important instrumentality of furthering political agendas, then the incumbent would never lose elections, which is not the case in India."

How can the Supreme Court’s recommendation of an autonomous body – the Security Commission – be insulated from political pressure?

Kiran responded to this saying, "Because you are no more alone, you are a group now. And we are also giving a fixed tenure, that’s an important recommendation."

Gonsalves tried to drive in a point at this juncture and said that India did not appoint people of merit and competence to head such autonomous bodies instead it appoints people of rank.

"NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) has a retired chief justice. It was supposed to be the monitor of police. It has failed miserably for the last 10 years. The country has to change its approach," stressed Gonsalves.

"I think there is a strong case for implementing judgment, there is a strong case for having a statutory commission to look at appointments and removals of police officers," Tewari said.

He agreed with Collins argument by saying, "There should be a complaint commission which should be accessible to ordinary people where they can register complaints which can be independently investigated."

Politician and police nexus

The cronyism between the politicians and policemen is the root of corruption. There is no actual need on the part of politician to create reform in the police force because of the cronyism.

To this, Manish Tewari argued by saying, "Chandigarh is run by bureaucracy and the nexus out there is far worse than the nexus in any democratic dispensation. Therefore, cronyism is not limited to politicians alone."

As the debate came towards the conclusion, Gonvales asked Manish Tewari to put their "act together."

He said, "What they (Congress) did for years is pathetic. You have got the mandate and you have got to give us a credible monitor of the police."

"Under the Constitution, policing, law and order is a state subject. It is not a magic wand that the Central Government has," Tewari defended the argument.

The final words came from Kiran Bedi when she said, "Let Delhi Police begin with the implementation of the Supreme Court judgment. The rest of the country will follow."

Final SMS/Web poll: Can the Government police the police?

Yes: 76 per cent

No: 24per cent

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