Impartial body with autonomous powers essential, says ousted BMTF chief

Additional Director-General of Police R.P. Sharma, chief of the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF), appeared unfazed after he heard about his transfer through media reports.

“I will relinquish my charge and hand it over to someone else only after I receive the original government order (GO). As of now, I have received no official communication,” he told The Hindu Tuesday evening.

“It is a premature transfer,” he commented, when asked whether the State government’s decision was made under pressure from disgruntled Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials who went on strike recently.

Status of cases

Asked about the status of some of the 180 cases filed against officials of various agencies, including the BBMP, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB), as well as revenue officials, Mr. Sharma said if the rule of law is upheld, the cases should hold good despite the change of guard in the BMTF.

One of the main demands of BBMP officials who boycotted work holding the city to ransom was to withdraw the criminal cases booked against some of them.

Rubbishing allegations that the BMTF was gunning for BBMP staff, Mr. Sharma said: “Ours is a complaints-driven system. It so happened that a large number of complaints are against BBMP officials. [Many] cases were filed [following] court directives. It is not our right to register cases.”

Reacting to the accusation of the BMTF “harassing” BBMP officials, especially engineers, Mr. Sharma objected to the term.

“If the legal procedure causes inconvenience to people, it cannot be called harassment.

“We didn’t arrest anyone; we only filed charge sheets. If the court calls them, it is an unavoidable inconvenience!”

‘Autonomy is crucial’

When asked about the possibility of BMTF’s powers being diluted, which might happen if the 1996 GO giving the task force police powers is amended, Mr. Sharma stressed on the need for an independent, autonomous external body.

“The BBMP has an internal agency called the Technical Vigilance Cell under the Commissioner (TVCC). I have my doubts about the effectiveness of internal vigilance cells,” he said.

“An impartial body with autonomous powers is essential to address issues without fear,” he added.