Delhi Cabinet proposes panel to hear complaints against police

Delhi Cabinet proposes panel to hear complaints against police

Preparing the ground for another clash with the Centre, the Delhi Cabinet on Tuesday approved setting up of State Police Complaint Authority — a subject on which the Arvind Kejriwal government has no power to take a decision.

The Kejriwal government claimed that the proposed authority, to be headed by a retired judge, would implement a Supreme Court order for having such a mechanism in all states to hear complaints against police personnel, including custodial injury, death and rape, arrest or detention without prescribed procedure, and misconduct.

While the state-level authority shall hear complaints against officials above the rank of deputy commissioner of police, a similar complaint redressal system would be set up at the district level to take up complaints against police officers of the rank of assistant commissioner and below.

‘Following SC order’
The Kejriwal government’s official statement said following “the Supreme Court order in letter and spirit, the cabinet decided that the public grievance commissions will not look after the work of police complaint authority and a police complaint authority would be set up for the same”.

What, however, the Kejriwal Cabinet chose to allegedly overlook was that Delhi is a Union Territory and decisions related to police, and law and order have to be taken by the Centre through Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.

Delhi Police ex-commissioner R S Gupta and Arunachal Pradesh ex-DGP Amod Kanth, who earlier served in Delhi, also expressed doubts over the future of the proposal.

“Wishful thinking cannot create a law,” said Kanth, adding the authority proposed by the elected government in the city is not legally possible.

Gupta also wondered why the Kejriwal government was taking a decision on a subject on which it cannot legislate. “The problem is that they are no adhering to the division of power...followed by the governments before them.”

“When the Supreme Court says all states have to create such an authority, it does not apply to Delhi as it is an UT and not a state. The word ‘state’ is a misnomer for Delhi,” said Gupta.

Sources in Raj Niwas, however, said they were yet to study the cabinet decision but added that the apex court directions were perceived to be in context of states where the law and order was controlled by the elected government.

“In a Union Territory like Delhi, police are controlled by the central government and there already is a grievance redressal mechanism in place,” said a Raj Niwas source.

Kanth said the Supreme Court in 2006-07 gave six directives to all states on police reforms, including that a complaints’ authority be set up.

 “My efforts to set up the authority in Arunachal were appreciated by the court,” he said.

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