Will the recent Kerala ordinance amending the Kerala Police Act, following a Supreme Court directive to Governments to amend the laws and structures relating to the police, ensure that the police will be able function as an efficient, independent and accountable agency? Our readers respond:
The functioning of the police, in our country is predominantly based on laws formulated during the colonial era. Alarmed by the increasing politicisation of the police force and unwillingness of the executive to initiate reforms to modernise it, the Supreme Court has stepped in. It is creditable that, while many State Governments have chosen to defy the Apex Court's instructions, the Kerala Government has issued an ordinance to implement police reforms.
The Government's move reflects a sense of urgency as the crime graph is moving upwards in the State.
The involvement of many policemen in criminal cases in the State is a sign of more criminals in the force.
The proposed setting up of `State Security Commission,' `Police Establishment Board' and `Police Complaints Authority' would infuse professionalism and efficiency in the functioning of the police. Segregation of investigation and law and order functions would improve efficiency, subject to availability of adequate manpower.
Fixed tenure for key officials would insulate them from political interference to a considerable extent.
Simultaneously, the Government has to improve the working and living conditions of the constabulary, which constitutes the major part of the force.
Computerisation and networking of the police stations should be accorded top priority. There should a system of surprise inspection of police stations by senior officials. Joint orientation programmes for policemen, people's representatives and members of the public would help build mutual trust and increase awareness of the respective rights and responsibilities.
The Government has taken the first step to reform the police force. But we do not know whether the ordinance is a perfunctory compliance to the Supreme Court's directives or a sincere effort to reform the police.
The motive behind promulgation of the ordinance is to set up an efficient police system in the State.
It is certainly a decisive step as the crime graph is going up. The police should bring in more transparency in its functioning. However, a major section of the police force still uses the colonial approach in dealing with crimes. It is a steadfast passion among many to imbue fear in the populace. There is a need to promote a people-friendly force.
The amendment to the Kerala Police Act, according to the directive of the Supreme Court, should bring about a change in the functioning of the department. The powers regarding transfer, separating criminal investigation from law and order, setting up of Security Commission etc are all welcome. But the efficiency of the force and its acting as an independent agency depends greatly on the political will to implement it.
A. Jacob Sahayam
Any move on the part of the Government to ensure the functioning of the police as an efficient, independent and accountable agency is welcome. However, if our police force is to function in an independent manner, two things are needed. There should be a change in the mindset. The style of functioning should also change. Only modern, scientific and sophisticated methods should be used for crime detection. The department should conduct awareness programmes to impress on the citizens the common good that will accrue from adherence to the existing laws. Offenders should be strictly brought to book.
To bring about the above changes, their working and service conditions should be improved. They should be provided with modern gadgets for crime detection. Personnel posted in police stations should form sufficient number of interfaces with the local, non-governmental welfare organisations such as the residents' associations. Recruitment methods should be redesigned to make sure that only persons with sufficiently level of integrity and moral standards are taken into the Department across the ranks.
If the above changes can be effected, the police will become people friendly and the people will become police friendly.
The personnel in the police force seem to ignore the main objective of the profession. This is the condition that forced the Supreme Court to issue a directive to State Governments to amend the laws relating to the police with a view to reorganise the force efficiently and credibly. The apex court had noted that the force should not be a tool for suppression as seen in a totalitarian state. Based on the directive of the Apex court, the Government of Kerala recently issued an ordinance. As a part of this, the Government contemplates introduction of community policing in all parts of the State. The relationship between the law enforcing machinery and the public can be improved this way. This would also prevent the police from being inhuman. Recruitment should be in such a way that personnel with competence and integrity are taken in. Before deployment,
they must have obtained proper training in dealing with cases of different nature.
Panchayat-level committees should be formed to assist the police as and when necessary. Interaction between the police and the public in all vital issues pertaining to law and order will be of much use. The present `criminal-friendly' attitude of the police should be transformed to `people-friendly' as envisaged. This will help in the State police becoming an efficient, independent and accountable agency.
V. Viswanathan Nambiar
The role of the police force should be clearly defined. The force should be made cutting edge. Only then can they solve, in a scientific manner, complicated crimes. The quality of personnel must be of the highest class. They should be aware of a wide range of things. Caste, political affiliations etc should not be considered. The tasks of the police force should be demarcated. There should be a section of the force ready to attend to purely civil affairs. Another section should deal with criminal investigations. Other groups should be entrusted with gathering of intelligence and providing protection to life and property of citizens. Traffic control should be assigned to a separate cell of the police department. Performance assessment must be made mandatory. Promotions, increments etc should be based on this. The Minister, who is the political head, should not interfere with the working of the department at all.
Amendments to the Kerala Police Act are welcome. But how effective would the Act be when the Home Minister himself admits that there are hundreds of criminals in the police.
The police in the State are acting as the rulers and nobody questions them. Even the Minister seems to have very little idea of how to contain criminal elements entering the force. There should be drastic changes in every aspect regarding the force. Finally, the mindset of those in the force should change and the ultimate change should come from within.
As such, the distance between the police force and the public has considerably reduced. The Kerala Police Act, in this context, is supposed to render maximum public utility. The amendment to the Act also should help in sorting out a few issues. The police personnel, in a society, should not confine their duties to the provisions of the Act alone. They should come down to the level of the common man.
Before bringing in amendments to the Kerala Police Act certain issues should be addressed. Every new man who joins the force is seasoned and tempered to become a ruffian. This system of training has to change. Common people are even today afraid to approach the police. Even the Home Minister has admitted that there are hundreds of criminals in the police.
The police personnel should be provided better working atmosphere and living conditions. This would help them psychologically. This would reflect in their output.
The amendments to the Kerala Police Act are timely and most required. Reforms such as this have a huge potential and can bring about a lot of changes.
The administration must make sure the changes envisaged are implemented.
Move with times
The history of legislation in independent India shows that legislations are passed for the sake of passing. But, things have to move with the times. Anyhow, the best way for reforms to survive and succeed is in not starting them impulsively. There should be long-winding debates and discussions.
The greatest reform expected in the police force is in intelligence (gathering, processing and applying) so that the best results are obtained as regards crime prevention and investigation. The other is sensible handling of suspects and effective treatment of those accused, both guided by the prime aim of solving cases. For all this to happen we must all put in a collective effort.