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Dependence on station writers may end as CM talks tough

Bangalore, Harsha Raj Gatty, June 19, 2013, DHNS:

FIRs drafted by them are often inaccurate and embarrassing for police

The overdependence of senior police officers on “station writers” (usually constables) for drafting First Information Reports (FIRs) and booking cases has got the State government fuming.

In the past, writers have been accused of giving free reign to their imagination while writing down the FIRs and registering cases. These FIRs often turn out to be inaccurate and illegible, hampering the delivery of justice.

But Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who once practised law in Mysore, is not amused. At a review meeting here recently, he reminded the senior police officers that complaints could not be written down as per the whims and fancies of writers. He declared that station house officers (SHOs) should be accessible to the aggrieved public.

Not a formal post

A writer’s is not a formal post to which a policeman is appointed. No qualifications are required either. The practice, however, is to appoint the senior head constable or just a constable to the post. It is only an ad hoc arrangement. A writer’s job is to receive complaints from the public and submit them to the senior officers for redress. But what appears to have angered the government is that station writers themselves write down the FIRs with the SHO merely affixing his/her signature on them.

The fact that writers are hardly trained for their supposed job has only complicated the matters. Former DG&IGP, Shankar M Bidari, said that during his tenure, he had mooted a proposal to train writers in the basics of criminal justice system, viz the IPC, CrPC, soft skills, language training, etc.

“Writers are in desperate need of such a training as most of them are not well-versed in IPC and CrPC, thereby causing inaccuracies in FIRs — the most crucial start in any criminal case. This often misleads the investigation,” Bidari told Deccan Herald. Courts have not been amused, and admonished the prosecution for inaccurate FIRs and the police officers’ casual approach in this regard.

“Most FIRs are poor in respect of legibility, language and the context. Sometimes neither the complainant nor the officials can comprehend the content,” Suresh S, a City-based lawyer, said. Another grey area, a senior police officer says, is that writers are not transfered as per the regular calendar like other policemen. Police inspectors doggedly fight to retain them as their transfer would disturb the system in place.

A senior head constable attached to Hulimavu police station said that he remained in his previous position — as a writer with Mico Layout police station — for nine long years. This is in sharp contrast to other positions to which constables are appointed for not more than three years. Informed sources say a long tenure gives writers a hold over not only the station but also over new and young officers besides leading to corruption.

Needless to say, writers try to make the most of the “power”. Sushmitha (name changed), a complainant, said that a writer demanded Rs 30 for accepting a complaint of lost SIM card. “I had to pay the money as the FIR is needed to block the SIM. But when I insisted on meeting the police inspector, the writer threatened to decline my complaint,” she said.

Ravi Kumar Nayak, DCP (Admn), says they do not maintain statistics on writers as theirs is not a formal post. Kamal Pant, Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), said that after the tough talk by the chief minister, all DCPs had been directed to follow the order and effectively tackle illegitimate practices.

 

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