Political interference is the biggest issue, say police personnel


The biggest issue plaguing the police force is political interference and not lack of facilities, some police officers say.

They say that it is rampant in transfers and postings. “Political affiliations play a large role in departmental inquiries and punishment proceedings of officials. Nowadays, politicians are influencing the way in which performance appraisals and awards are given to officers and staff,” a senior officer said.

“This hurts us both ways. You have to approach the MLA or a politician, especially from the ruling party, to get transfers or postings. Otherwise, you will be thrown to an inconvenient place or position. But if you get transferred on the recommendation of a politician, you will end up obeying him till the end of your term. Several times, what he says and what your senior officer orders can be two different things. This takes away your independence and makes you susceptible to punishment,” a circle inspector said.

This has not stopped even after the Supreme Court judgment in the Prakash Singh v/s Union of India case, a senior officer said.

The 2006 judgment was based on the principle of separation of powers envisioned in the Constitution. It clearly states that all decisions on transfer of officers and personnel should be devoid of political interference. It suggests the State governments to set up police establishment boards that comprise senior officers who will take a collective decision on transfers. “Though the board has been established, it is not independent. It functions on the recommendations of local MLAs and other powerful politicians,” a senior IPS officer said.

The apex court orders were duly followed only in the two years that Ajai Kumar Singh was the Director-General of Police and S.M. Jamdar was the Home Secretary, the officer said.

After the path-breaking judgment set a deadline of December 2007 for State governments to form rules to keep the department free of political interference, Karnataka set up the State and regional boards. Though the Supreme Court had recommended a two-year tenure for senior officers, the State government fixed a term of only one year.

“The court’s directive to separate duties of crime investigation and law and order maintenance has been followed only on paper,” another officer said.

“There is no clear delineation of duties. Officers are given both duties and swapped from one wing to another without considering the core competence of officers,” he said.

“Even the regional boards headed by Inspector-Generals of Police of various ranges are not free from political interference,” a member of a board for the north western range said. “A meeting of the board happens just before general transfers every year. The only thing that is discussed in these meetings is which leader is recommending whom and whose recommendation letters are to be taken seriously. The merit of officials or their suitability for particular posts is seldom discussed,” he said.

“In Bidar for example, aspirants to the posts of around 80 officers, including heads of circles, station house officers, those in non-executive positions and supervisors of ministerial staff, have brought recommendations from politicians during general transfers or off season transfers,” a senior officer said.

He points out that this had been the trend in the last five years.However, there are some who differ. “In my experience, officers tend to be as politicised as professional politicians. There is not much of a difference between the two. There is not much of a difference in the way the two would function,” a former police commissioner of Bengaluru said. “We have had senior officers who have settled political scores by transferring officials and political leaders who have been more rational and transferred officials based on their capabilities,” he added.

‘Political affiliations play a role in departmental inquiries and punishment proceedings’

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 1:46:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/Political-interference-is-the-biggest-issue-say-police-personnel/article14383531.ece

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