The BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government on January 13 passed a proposal to introduce the police commissioner system in two major cities under which IPS officers would get addtional authority including magisterial powers.
This comes in the wake of violence during the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and allegations of police brutality and use of excessive force against protesters .
The proposals were passed by the State Cabinet headed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The police commissioner system would be implemented in Lucknow and Gautam Buddha Nagar.
Sujeet Pandey, a 1994-batch IPS officer and ADG Prayagraj, was appointed as the new and first ever Police Commissioner of Lucknow. IG Naveen Arora will be Joint Commissioner - Law and Order and Nilabja Chowdhury, also of the same rank, will be Joint Commissioner - Crime and Headquarters in Lucknow.
The system would be slightly different in Gautam Buddha Nagar. While Alok Singh, 1995-batch IPS officer and ADG Meerut Range, will be the Police Commissioner pf Gautam Buddha Nagar, the city would have two Additional Police Commissioners, Triparna Ganguly and Akhilesh Kumar, of the rank of DIG.
“In police commissioner system, police works as a team, under which the police commissioner has some magisterial powers in order to take forward smart and effective policing,” Mr. Adityanath told reporters after the cabinet meeting.
As per an official statement, the government listed several reasons for introducing the police commissioner system including the Hi-Tech nature and complexity of crimes, organized crime menace like drugs and human trafficking and cyber crimes. While the government does not directly link the introduction of the police commissioner system to the recent protests, it evaluates the present system of crowd control as inadequate to prevent damage to public property.
“Law and order challenges have become such that for crowd control and to effectively prevent vandalism of government and private property, the present system is proving to be weak,” the government document said.
This point stands out as the State government recently issued notices to around 500 persons across UP asking them to pay hefty fines for the damage to public and private property in the violence that took place during the protests against the CAA. The notices were issued after Mr. Adityanath vowed to “take revenge” against alleged vandals by confiscating and auctioning their property as compensation for the damages.
Under the new system, Lucknow would have a Police Commissioner (an ADG rank officer), two Joint Commissioners (IG rank) and nine SP rank officers along with a woman SP rank officer especially posted for women security. Apart from the Police Commissioner, Gautam Buddha Nagar would have two Additional Police Commissioners, five SP-rank officers and one woman SP for women security.
Under Section 20 of the CrPC, the Police Commissioner is delegated legal powers of an executive magistrate, while the Joint, Additional and Deputy Commissioners are accorded “special executive” powers of a magistrate under Section 21 of the CrPC.
Mr. Adityanath said the decision marked an “important and historic day” for policing in UP, adding that introducing the Police Commissioner system was the “biggest step towards police reform” in the State.
DGP O.P Singh welcomed the decision as a necessary step towards the taking quick action and said “with this comes greater responsibility to deliver”.
“Earlier policing was in a diversified way. There were many powers and laws where we had to work and depend on each other, due to which the movement was slow,” he said. “If we wanted to take any preventive action for law and order, we had to depend on many factors.”
Mr. Singh said the present generation “seeks a fast response”.
“The way urbanization is increasing and the way in which dimensions of crimes are changing, a lot of things are happening that need quick action. Considering all this, we believe that police commissioner system is suitable and this is being developed as per local conditions,” he said.
BSP chief Mayawati, however, said changing the police system in a few places would not bring about an improvement in the poor law and order in the State. Instead, the government should “rise above party politics” and and take tough legal action against criminal elements, Ms. Mayawati prescribed.