Perception gap plagues crime control in UP : The Tribune India

Perception gap plagues crime control in UP

It has been claimed that in the four years of Yogi’s rule, the UP police have been relentless against bad elements, with the number of police encounters shooting up to an unprecedented 3,300. The claim belies simple crime-control logic — in a better-policed regime, there would be fewer retaliations against law and order agencies and, hence, fewer encounters. Worse is that the encounters seemed to follow a standard script.

Perception gap plagues crime control in UP

CORRECTIVE STEP: The UP police have recently twice received harsh directions from the high court to run training courses for their investigating officers. Reuters



Vikash Narain Rai

Former Director, National Police Academy, Hyderabad

THE common perception of justice at the police station level seems vastly different from what is examined by the constitutional courts in India. One is guided by local expediency, while the other favours strict adherence to a regimen of colonial-origin laws, interpreted in accordance with our Constitution.

Chief Justice of India NV Ramana recently emphasised that Indianisation of our legal system was the need of the hour, “When I say Indianisation, I mean the need to adapt to the practical realities of our society and localise our justice delivery systems.” He cited language barriers and lengthy judgments to highlight his point.

Be that as it may, the sum and substance would be that certain hardened elements impeding consensus at the two ends are such as if there were two alternative texts while applying the same legal provisions.

Illustrating the dilemma are the often-repeated claims of the UP Chief Minister of running the best policed state in the country. This is going to be the key argument during the forthcoming campaign for the Assembly elections, as was noticed in the speeches delivered at an event in Aligarh recently. The Prime Minister started where the CM had left off, devoting a substantial part of his speech at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of a university to praising the robustness of Yogi’s crime-control methods.

It has been claimed that in the four years of Yogi’s rule, the UP police have been relentless against bad elements, with the number of police encounters shooting up to touch the unprecedented figure of 3,300.

The claim belies simple crime-control logic — in a better-policed regime, there would be fewer retaliations against law and order agencies and, hence, fewer encounters. Worse is that the UP encounters mostly seemed to follow a standard script named ‘langra encounter’: the target ending up with a bullet wound around his knee.

Uttar Pradesh tops in murders, kidnappings, caste atrocities and cyber crimes and ranks second in rapes in the country, according to the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report.

The state also gained notoriety when it withdrew Muzaffarnagar communal riot cases during trial and enacted communally sensitive laws, ostensibly to curb deceitful religious conversion and love jihad. Muslims periodically face a coercive enforcement of such laws by Hindutva vigilante groups.

Can there be a balancing act around some of the contentious issues in everyday law and order policing affecting citizens, such as arrests, complicity, inaction, insensitivity, harassment, brutality, encounters, which have given rise to the most glaring controversies in recent times?

To be fair to the perspective of the common people, the idea of justice usually falters or succeeds at the police station level itself, having been put to the test on the parameters of accessibility and momentum. The rest of the legal journey for them becomes an expensive and exhausting wait.

Within a couple of weeks, the UP police have twice received harsh directions from the Allahabad High Court to run training courses for correcting the serious fault lines of their investigating officers. Several aspects related to the application of law, collection and evaluation of evidence and presentation of the police report under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) were adversely noticed, with senior officers being in collusion. The high court even noted that weapons were not recovered by the UP Police, but planted.

On September 15, a Bench headed by the acting Chief Justice of the court addressed the UP DGP face to face on the two-year-old matter of death by hanging of a 15-year-old girl student in a Mainpuri school. “Despite the seriousness shown by the Court to the case and the manner of investigation, coupled with direction against the defaulting police officer, no follow-up action has been taken. Rather, the matter is not being briefed to the Director-General of Police, Uttar Pradesh, to know the sensitivity of the case,” the order said.

Earlier, on August 29, another Bench of the high court had directed the DGP to issue a circular/order informing all investigating officers through their respective superintendents of police and ensure that they were given periodic training on the manner in which investigations were to be carried out in view of the Supreme Court's Prakash Singh ruling.

But why such a training would not make any difference should not be a great puzzle. If you are repeatedly exposed to the same redundant traditions, you are only cementing those beliefs.

The booming ‘encounter’ culture in UP is presented, qualifying both as accessible and momentous justice, with a substantial amount of social support. Amidst the boastful administrative claims, there seems to be an impregnable social balance with this routine that mocks the rule of law. The Vikas Dube case came closest to judicial scrutiny and the enquiry committee ended up supporting the official version. It was hard to bypass the common sense working against a desperate cop killer.

The 2014 landmark case on safeguards against automatic arrests and remands, Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar, was recently re-visited by the apex court to rule that it would be applicable even if no crime was registered. “As a matter of fact, summoning the person without there being any crime registered against him and detaining him would itself be violative of basic principles,” the court observed.

How will this doctrine fare in terms of the popular notion of accessibility and momentum? In other words, will it be adapted in the process of Indianisation of the legal system at the police station level? UP, because of its polarised plurality and dubious counter-claims of crime control, could be a churning pot for acknowledging and bridging the perception gap.

Tribune Shorts


Top News

82 kids had acute kidney injury, 70 died: Gambia

82 kids had acute kidney injury, 70 died: Gambia

In fresh tweet, says don’t use Maiden syrups


Cities

View All