The realisation of a long-standing demand for a Police Commissionerate in Kochi is almost in sight. The State government will discuss and take a decision on the proposal in the next Cabinet meeting.
The original proposal was to have commissionerates in Thiruvananathapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode. The new proposal is only for Kochi and the capital city. “The proposal for having commissionerates in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi is ready and will be presented at the next Cabinet meeting,” Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Minister for Home, told The Hindu over phone.
The Commissionerate system will give select magisterial powers to the City Police Commissioner. This is expected to enhance policing by reducing response time to crime and to ensure effective traffic management. If Kochi gets a commissionerate, it will also be eligible for ‘Mega City’ schemes, under which it can avail of funds to the tune of nearly Rs.10 crore from the Union government.
Kerala, it has been pointed out, is the only State without a commissionerate. Even smaller cities in neighbouring States have successfully implemented the system. The commissionerate system has been implemented in Chennai, Tiruchi, Madurai, Salem, Coimbatore and Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu; Bangalore, Mysore, Hubli, and Dharwar in Karnataka.
A senior official in the City Police said the rise in crime reported from the city and changing patterns of crime warranted the commissionerate system. More economic crimes are reported in the district in comparison with other districts in the State. A detailed report submitted to the State government said many of the cases registered here were banking crimes and other economic offences like ATM fraud. In 2010, 255 cyber crimes were reported in the city which increased to 322 in 2011, and 293 till October 2012. The number of cheating cases reported in 2009 was 277, which rose to 297 in 2010 and 627 in 2011, the report said.
The additional powers given to City Police Commissioner could be effective in monitoring the sizeable floating population of the city. Once the system is brought in, the Commissioner will be authorised to restrict unlawful assembly of public under section 144 of the Indian Penal Code, which is now vested with the District Collector in capacity as the district magistrate.
However, some top officials in the City Police sounded sceptical about the efficiency of the commissionerate system as it is being suggested for the State. Unlike other States, it is learnt that the State commissionerate system will not give officers licensing authority, which is presently entrusted with local self government bodies.
It has already been made legally mandatory, under sections 15(2),(3),(4),(5) and (6) of the Kerala Police Act 2011 to have the Commissionerate system in a metropolitan area like Kochi.
Commissionerate system will award select magisterial powers to the Police Commissioner.