M A I N   N E W S

SC orders police reforms
Gives Centre, states 3-month ultimatum
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 22
In a judgement that would go down as a landmark in the history of reforming criminal justice system and strengthening the rule of law in the country, the Supreme Court today ordered drastic changes in the police administration to make it more accountable and protect it from political interference.

Finding the 145-year-old Indian Police Act outdated, the court directed the Centre and the states to implement its seven-point directive, including a two-year fixed tenure for DGPs and other officers holding key positions and separating crime investigation and prosecution from the maintenance of general law and order.

Basing the order on the recommendations of the National Police Commission set up in 1977, a Bench of Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Mr Justice C.K. Thakker and Mr Justice P.K. Balasubramanyan virtually ordered the implementation of the panel’s recommendations on a PIL by former CRPF DGP Prakash Singh.

The directive also provided for the setting up of a national security commission at the Centre and a state security commission, police establishment board and police complaint authority in each state and at the district level with powers to firm up the police administration.

Taking into account the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission, the Julio Riberio Committee and the Soli Sorabjee Committee, the court virtually overhauled the Indian Police Act, 1861, in order to prevent politically engineered mass transfer of officers on the change of government.

It said the DGP and police officers on operational duties in fields like IGP in charge of a zone, DIG of a range and SP in the district would have a minimum fixed tenure of two years, unless promoted, removed on discipline grounds, found involved in corruption or faced criminal charges.

To make scientific investigation in crimes essential, the court said investigating officers would not be asked to do general law and order duties.

The police establishment board would look after transfers, postings and promotion of officers below the rank of DSP and other personnel.

The national security commission—for the selection and placement of chiefs of Central police organisations—had been approved in the order by the court to ensure that the DGPs of paramilitary forces like the BSF, CRPF, ITBP, SSB and CISF would be selected in a fair manner and have a fixed tenure of at least two years.

The national security commission could be headed by the Union Home Minister and comprise heads of Central police organisations and security experts as members.

The state security commission would act as a watch dog and be headed by the Chief Minister or Home Minister with a DGP as ex-officio secretary. The members of the panel would be chosen in a manner that would ensure its complete independence.

The state police complaint authority, to be headed by a retired Supreme Court or high court judge, would look after the complaints of misconduct against officers of the rank of SP and above while the district complaint authority would look into complaints against officers of the rank of DSP and below. It will be headed by a retired District Judge.

The head and other members of these authorities would be appointed by the state government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the high court and members would be drawn from a panel prepared by the State Human Rights Commission, Lokayukta and the State Public Service Commission.

The court gave the Centre and states time till December 31 to implement its order and directed the Cabinet Secretary and the Chief Secretary of each state to submit compliance reports by January 2007.

On the question of giving the CBI full authority to probe cases of terrorism and international and inter-state crimes, the court said it was a good suggestion but was not practical as it would affect the federal structure.

However, it sought reports from the National Human Rights Commission, the Sorabjee panel and the Bureau of Police Research and Development to examine the suggestion and submit a report by January.

The Chief Justice expressed the hope that the Centre and states would make earnest efforts to implement the order, observing that “howsoever good a law may be, the question that matters is implementation of it in letter and spirit.”



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