20 states fail to set up police plaint authority

20 states fail to set up police plaint authority

Only eight states abide by Supreme Court fiat

Only eight states have instituted Police Complaint Authority (PCA), mandated by the Supreme Court way back in 2006. The Centre which is administering Delhi has failed to take initiative to set up the PCA for the national Capital.

Even states with PCAs have sought to dilute their influence by not making their recommendations binding on the police administration.

Kerala is an exception in this case where PCAs recommendations are “binding” on police administration. Director General of Prosecution, Kerala, T Asaf Ali told Deccan Herald that police officers in his state “are bound to carry out recommendations” of PCA against erring police officials. Ali said Kerala PCA has powers of a civil court and can summon and seek relevant documents from the police.

The PCAs in other states, however, have not followed the Supreme Court prescription on the civil oversight bodies.

“PCA is to provide local remedy to people vis-à-vis police and to fix their accountability. In an unequal power structure, the concept of PCA which is new to India can play an important role in providing justice,” said Maja Daruwala, Director Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an NGO that has been working on police reforms. Daruwala pointed to the 2006 Supreme Court judgment which laid down six-directives for police reform, out of which PCA was one of them.  

PCAs at the state and district levels with retired judges and members of civil society as its members are meant to check  police manipulations in the internal departmental inquiries.

So far, there are only 10 functional PCAs on the ground and 18 states including Delhi have them “only on paper”. States with functional PCAs include Assam, Goa, Haryana, Kerala, Tripura and Uttarakhand. Four Union territories –Chandigarh, Puducherry, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli have taken initiative to set up these oversight bodies.

According to Navaz Kotwal, Co-ordinator, Police Reforms Programme, “Centre is the most rogue in terms of setting up these bodies. Delhi doesn’t have a PCA, and the new Police Acts are so retrogressive that Police Act of 1861 was much better.”

She alleged the PCAs have been compromised in terms of composition, mandate, selection process and lack of funding, but most importantly, they were hardly unknown to the people at large.

Speaking with Deccan Herald , former judge of Guwahati High Court A B Pal, who is also the chairperson of Tripura PCA said police never gives PCA their reports of internal inquiry on custodial deaths or other atrocities. “Our recommendations are not biding on the police”, he said. Same was the experience of PCAs in other states.

While Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have taken not to set up PCAs.
Some of the “functional PCAs” have retired IPS and IAS as their members which goes against the mandate that retired chief justice of High Court and retired district judge together with civil society members should run PCAs both at the state and district levels.