Special Correspondent

Review panel submits suggestions to Kodiyeri

Supreme Court guidelines incorporated

Draft suggests many innovative measures

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The draft Kerala Police Act prepared by the Police Act Review Committee proposes major changes to the existing Act towards improving accountability of the police.

Committee chairman Jacob Punnoose (Additional Director-General of Police) and members B. Sandhya and A. Hemachandran submitted draft to Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan here on Friday.

The draft recommends several innovative measures such as payment of compensatory wages to witnesses, whistleblower protection for policemen exposing corruption and torture by the police, special powers to the government to declare disturbed areas, appointment of honorary special executive magistrates and establishment of police recruitment board and welfare bureau.

Guidelines issued by the Supreme Court on procedure for arrests have been incorporated into the draft.

The draft says that any citizen shall have the right to know whether any particular person is in custody. He could also ascertain the stage of police action or investigation regarding a complaint made by him.

However, it adds that all information relating to the activities of any individual or institution which the police collect in the course of their duty shall be kept confidential except for the purpose of using such information for any official purpose. Besides, persons in custody may not be paraded or photographed for the purpose of publication in the press or any visual media.

Use of handcuff

Any person or his representative shall have the right to seek and be informed of the reason for any police action as a result of which his person, property or reputation is adversely affected.

A police officer arresting a person shall not use a handcuff unless he has reason to believe that the arrested person will escape from custody. Persons in custody shall be adequately clothed but for precautions against the arrested person using the cloths or anything concealed therein to hurt himself.

It seeks to bring certain service providers under scrutiny by providing for police verification of owners and employees. They will be required to maintain accurate records on identities of persons to whom they have provided services.

Station diaries

All State Human Rights Commission, State Women’s Commission and police complaints authorities will have powers to examine entries in police station diaries and verify the condition of persons kept in custody.

Elected representatives of people may forward complaints against the police to the police complaints authorities.

Panel of experts

The State Security Commission may appoint a panel of three experts every year to evaluate the performance of the police and suggest performance standards.

The State government can appoint honorary special executive magistrates to assist the police in their functions in any local area without receiving any remuneration or wielding any police authority.

Reputed persons aged between 55 and 70 years and having more than two decades of policing, administrative or legal experience can be appointed as honorary magistrates with the approval of the district and sessions judge.

To be considerate

The police, the draft says, should be particularly considerate to victims of crime and to the special needs of women, children, senior citizens and the differently abled.

No police officer shall prevent any member of the public from making any audio or video or digital record of any police activity or action carried out in a public place or in any private place under the control of the member of the public making the record.