'Steps are afoot to improve morale, efficiency of the police'

'Steps are afoot to improve morale, efficiency of the police'

'Steps are afoot to improve morale, efficiency of the police'

The Indian police services, which are a legacy of colonial times, have all along been regulators and now need to transform into facilitators to adopt a citizen-friendly face.

Different states in the country have implemented police reforms in varying degrees and Minister for Home and Muzarai Dr V S Acharya conveys to Bidanda M Chengappa of Deccan Herald on how Karnataka has fared on this score.

What is the latest position of the supreme court directions on police reforms? How many states have so far implemented these directions?

The supreme court issued six directives.

i) Establishment of a State Security Commission. Appointed in Karnataka and a High Court Judge is to be nominated by the Chief Justice of Karnataka. Letter sent.

ii) A  two-year tenure for the DG&IGP. Not agreed to.

iii) Minimum tenure of operational officers from SHO to IGP. Agreed by establishing Police Establishment Board up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.

iv) Division of crime investigation and law and order. This was already done in Karnataka more than 20 years ago.

v) Police Establishment Board for evicting transfers up to the rank Deputy Superintendent of Police. Established.

vi) Police Complaint Authority. Not yet implemented. Various states have taken various steps on the above mentioned six directions.

Are you committed to bringing about reforms in the police? What is your envisaged time frame to implement these reforms? What are your parameters of success in the initiation of the much needed reform processes.

We are committed to bring about these reforms in the Karnataka Police. The Police Establishment Board is a major decision. The board has been effecting the transfers. The government has changed only one order so far. In addition, the government issued an order transferring 14 police officers pertaining to Bellary district. The criteria of success of reforms will be non-interference in the transfers as also the tenure of police officers in their operational postings. Police officers should get posted to executive and non-executive posts automatically. This will improve their, morale, efficiency and effectiveness of the police.

What according to you are the reforms that are required in the police? In order of priority what are the most urgent reforms necessary and who will be responsible for ushering them into the system? At what extra costs will these reforms be instituted and whether it would be completed in the present term of this government?

Over work, lack of leave and holidays because of shortage of staff leads to a number of problems like stress, tension, frustration, misbehaviour, corruption etc. Going by the Dharamvir Commission report (of 1976) about 200 more police stations are required in Karnataka. We have prepared plan for 150 police stations in next three years. The other issue is basic training as well as in-service training to improve the professional knowledge, skills and attitude of policemen. We are working on this. We are the first in India to make a provision in the Police Budget for expenditure on investigation. This will certainly reduce corruption and harassment of complainants to meet the cost of investigation. It is possible to show perceptible improvement within the tenure of this government. We shall try our best to do so.

Have you had any broad based discussions with police officers and other administrators about these proposed reforms? Why are the reforms not happening at the intended pace?

We have held a number of discussions on the issue. We have taken certain steps and a lot more is to be done. For example, we have ordered the study of internal work culture of the police department to find out what should be done to keep up the morale and, efficiency of the lower subordinates. We have also introduced certain steps to ensure that petitioners/complainants are attended to quickly and properly when they visit police stations.

i) Boards in front of all police stations giving the telephone number of sub-inspector, police inspector, DySP so that public can contact them in case their complaints are not received properly or quickly.

ii) Toll free telephone numbers 18004250100 in the office of DG&IGP to receive complaints.

iii) Advertisement boards in the district headquarters giving the telephone numbers of the Supeintendent of Police, Additional SP and a toll free number of the DG’s control room so that citizens can contact them in case their complaints are not received.

Is it true that sections of police officers themselves are opposed to some of these reforms and if so what does the government intend to do to convince them?

It is not true to say that police officers are opposed to reforms. There may be some differences of opinion about the priority, methodology and procedural matters.

To bring about the reforms what is the most challenging bottleneck — the Centre, the changes in the law, finances or the attitude of the police?

Finances and political will are the main bottlenecks. The other important bottleneck is resistance to attitudinal change to adopt a totally service oriented attitude rather than an authoritarian one among some police officers.

Did the Karnataka government not commit contempt of supreme court by not following any of its directions? If so, who should be held responsible for the same — the chief minister or the home minister or the chief secretary or the director general of police?

We have not committed any contempt of the court. As you have seen we have implemented most of the directions of the supreme court. We are also in the process of drafting a new Karnataka Police Act.

Have you replied to the questions of the Justice K T Thomas Committee? Can you make available a copy of the same?

Justice Thomas Committee came to Karnataka a few months back and held meetings with me and the chief secretary. They were quite satisfied with the action taken by Karnataka.