Endorsing Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s observation that State governments had reduced policemen to “footballs” by frequently transferring them, Governor H.R. Bhardwaj strongly emphasised the need for security of tenure for senior police officials.

Presiding over a regional conference on Judicial Reforms and Police Reforms, organised by the Indian Institute of Public Administration in Bangalore on Saturday, Mr. Bhardwaj referred to the security of tenure of two years given to the CBI Director by the Centre and felt that the State governments should also refrain from disturbing senior police officials for a minimum of two years from their respective postings.

Similarly, senior police officials should extend the same security of tenure to their subordinates, he said, and criticised the State Government for transferring police officers so frequently in the last couple of months. The Governor was reacting to the strong objection made by former Director-General of Police, Karnataka, R. Srikumar, to the transfer of more than 1,000 police officers by the Government during his eight-month stint at the helm of the police force in the State.

During the last two years of his service in the Police Department, Mr. Srikumar claimed that he had been transferred on four occasions in gross violation of the Supreme Court ruling. Out of the 1,008 inspectors of police in the State, nearly 1,000 police inspectors had been transferred either once, twice or even thrice when he was the Director-General of Police.

Police reforms

Mr. Bhardwaj regretted the failure of the democratisation of the police force in India despite 60 years of Independence.

Pointing out that the United Nations had criticised India for its failure to bring about reforms to democratise the police force, Mr. Bhardwaj said police officials work for a small salary with little or no welfare schemes. “They are treated as bonded labourers,” he said.

Calling upon the State to stop “misusing” the police, Mr. Bhardwaj regretted the lack of will to bring about police reforms. “Nobody seems to be interested in reforming the police system,” he said, and called upon the Government to take necessary steps to arrest the decline in the standards of policing.

He also felt that there was no need for deploying a large number of police personnel to provide security to VIPs. Instead, police personnel should be used to provide security for the common man. “There is no need to station so many police officers when VIPs move around. The same policeman can be used to provide security to the general public at night. Police should carry out midnight checks. There is a serious lapse on the part of lower level police officers, like head constable and constable, when it comes to carrying out necessary checks,” he said.