Police want it like it is, no meddling MLAs

Officers say force must continue to work under Centre, not state govt

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s two-day dharna demanding shifting control of Delhi Police from the central government to the state government has not gone down well with former senior officers of the force.

Though the demand has been raised on several occasions by Kejriwal’s predecessors ever since the Union Cabinet excluded state government’s power to legislate on police in 1991, the officers insist the force must continue to work under the Centre. 

Ved Prakash Marwah, commissioner from April 1985 to April 1988, says the dharna proves that Kejriwal wants the power of suspension, dismissal, power of postings and transfers and not merely a disciplinary control over the force. Marwah says it is important to understand what does control of Delhi Police means.

“Here the Chief Minister is showing lack of understanding. He is making a huge mistake when he says other states have police under the CM. But there they provide the funds, the facilities which they need. They pass the law under which the police function. All these things are not with the Delhi government. I think this is a complicated issue and you can’t settle it by making demands and doing dharnas,” Marwah adds.

He recommends that the issue needs to be discussed with all political parties and experts sitting together. “My opinion is that we should have a metropolitan police system like those in London, Washington and New York,” he says.

Former police officer and social activist Kiran Bedi also criticised Kejriwal over the protest, saying he is the biggest law-violating chief minister she has seen. “What kind of law will people follow? He has openly violated the law. I am amazed that he is still in power,” she says.

On whether Delhi Police should come under the state government, she says, “Delhi Police report to Parliament. Any change means amendments in Parliament and for that you need negotiation, you need patience, not anarchy.”

B K Gupta, commissioner from November 2010 to June 2012, says if Delhi Police are put under Kejriwal, he may just suspend the entire force. Gupta says that at present, police in the capital enjoy a lot of autonomy under the Centre. “Putting them under the Delhi government will expose them to interference from MLAs.

The present model is a successful one, the funding is much better from the Centre. Delhi Police, if put under the present Delhi government, will simply be ruined,” Gupta adds.

Kejriwal is not the first chief minister to express annoyance as well as helplessness, and appeal to the central government that police should be brought under the control of the state government.

His immediate predecessor Sheila Dikshit had sparred in public in 2012 with former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar over accountability in the wake of the gang rape on December 16, 2012.

Dikshit had also made it clear to the public that she could not be held responsible for actions of the police, which was not under her government’s control.

In September 2013, the state government was given licensing powers, which were earlier held by police. But it was done after allegations that police, over the years, indulged in unrestricted use of provisions under section 28 of the Delhi Police Act, which granted licensing powers to the Delhi Police.

Now, the state government has the final authority for the issue of licences for gun, opening of hotels, public performances, eating joints, theatres and swimming pools.
A separate administrative structure for the licensing branch has been set up in the office of the Principal Secretary (Revenue)-cum-Divisional Commissioner, where applications for licences would be received and processed online.

A multi-agency body, including Delhi Fire Services, Delhi Disaster Management Authority, Delhi Police, Labour department, Excise Department, municipal corporations, DPCC and the SDM is responsible for examining the applications and granting of licences through the Divisional Commissioners concerned.

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