March 24, 2013
States drag their feet
J. Venkatesan, The Hindu , march 24,2013
The Sunday Story
On March 11, the Supreme Court again issued notice to the Centre through the Secretary, Home Department, on police reforms. This was at the suo motu hearing of the case relating to the assault of a woman by Punjab constables and brutal beating up of women teachers in Bihar.
Notices were also issued to all the State governments and the Union Territories through the Chief Secretaries, the Home Secretaries, the Directors-General of Police, the Administrators and the Police Commissioners, requiring them to file affidavits on the implementation of court directions in what is now famous as the Prakash Singh case. The case has been listed for further hearing on April 1.
The National Police Commission was set up in 1979 to suggest measures on police reforms. The Commission recommended a Model Police Act to replace the outdated Police Act, 1861. However, none of the recommendations was implemented. On a writ petition filed in 1996 by Prakash Singh, former Director-General of the Border Security Force (see accompanying story and graphic), the Supreme Court on September 22, 2006, issued comprehensive directions.
They include: The Director-General of Police should be selected by the States from among the three senior-most officers on the basis of their length of service, very good record and range of experience. Police officers on operational duties like the Inspector-General of Police in charge of a zone, Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of a range, Superintendent of Police in charge of a district and Station House Officer in charge of a police station should have a minimum tenure of two years. The Centre and the States were to set up Security Commissions for selection and appointment of personnel and ensure complete autonomy in police administration.
The investigating police should be separated from the law and order police to ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people. There should be a Police Establishment Board in each State to decide all transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters of officers. A District Level Police Complaints Authority headed by a retired district judge will look into complaints against officers of and up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police .
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