Miles to go for a full-fledged police plaints authority

The State government does not appear to have a proper system in place to check the “serious misconduct” by police officers in Karnataka. This, even nine months after the State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA) was set up.

While the SPCA itself appears to be struggling with no monetary allocations and lack of staff, the government is yet to formulate the 30 district police complaints authorities.

Result: All cases of serious misconduct by officials below the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP), with the public, are sent back to the police department without action.

Sources in the government say that the SPCA has so far received not less than 250 serious complaints, alleging misconduct by police officials.

However, most complaints are against police officers below the rank of the SP and the cases are forwarded to the office of the ADGP (Grievances) in the police department.

Officials say that most of the cases pertain to lower-rung police officials misusing their authority and putting people behind bars without following the due process of law.

Govt dragging its feet. It is said that the State government has been dragging its feet over formulating the district panels on account of lack of civil society members. As per law, civil society panelists are supposed to have no political affiliation and should be of impeccable character.

To identify such members, the government has formulated a search committee which has to choose one person for each district from a shortlist of three.

The government has to identify a total of 90 civil society members, before zeroing in on one member for one district. Government officials say that there are a number of problems in identifying civil society members, leaving the government with incomplete district police complaints authorities.

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) S K Pattanayak admitted that the process to identify civil society members needs to be expedited. 

“But we do not believe that these panels are not formed at all. The Regional Commissioner, the SP and the other members are already in place to hear the complaints,” he said.

Pattanayak said that several complaints of misconduct, which are filtered through the SPCA, are not serious in nature, and are thus forwarded to the grievances cell in the police department.

The SPCA has been dealing with a massive shortage of staff. Despite having 16 sanctioned posts, the SPCA has officially only three functioning. These include the chairperson of the SPCA, Justice Chinnappa, a retired civil servant member, and Justice Chinnappa’s personal secretary.

The SPCA, barring the weekly meeting, has nothing much to work upon as they are not even provided with the necessary monetary assistance. According to officials, the SPCA does not even have adequate funds for stationery. Further, the government has provided SPCA just one official car for both members to share.

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