A pioneer in police service reforms

The first Police Commission was established in November 1969 by the M. Karunanidhi government

March 17, 2022 04:28 pm | Updated 10:05 pm IST

A traffic police constable regulates vehicles at the  Palpannai junction at Tiruchi on Friday.

A traffic police constable regulates vehicles at the Palpannai junction at Tiruchi on Friday. | Photo Credit: M. SRINATH

When it comes to initiating reforms in the service conditions of the police force, Tamil Nadu could boast of being a pioneer with the establishment of the first Police Commission as early as November 1969 by the DMK government, headed by M. Karunanidhi. Currently, a Police Commission, headed by C.T. Selvam, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, has begun work.

The first Commission, with the retired Chief Secretary, R.A. Gopalaswamy, as its chairperson, had among its members the then Advocate-General, S. Govind Swaminathan, and Tamil Scholar and MLA M.P. Sivagnanam (Ma Po Si). In 1971, it submitted its report suggesting the three cadre systems — Tamil Nadu State Police Service, Police executive service and police constabulary service. It recommended that the basic pay scales and dearness allowance be fixed for different categories on the principles of common applicability to all public services and separately compensated in the form of promotions. Among its other recommendations were sanctioning of a special provident fund scheme for the police force and the target of 80% housing for the police force. The Commission also recommended that lock-ups at police stations be remodelled with better ventilation and sanitation.

The next commission, headed by the former Chief Secretary, P. Sabanayagam and including the former DGP, K.R. Shenai, and four other members, was set up in May 1989 by the Karunanidhi government to suggest measures to improve the police department, given its increasing demand and growth. It made a thorough study of the modules of other States and countries and presented its report in August 1990, recommending measures to improve the quality of subordinate ranks by creating more posts of head constables and sub-inspectors, and to carry out “scientific investigations”.

The third commission, too, was formed when Karunanidhi was the Chief Minister in August 2006, with the former Home Secretary, R. Poornalingam, as chairman. It dealt with the general conditions of service, welfare, the powers and duties of the police force; crime detection and traffic regulation; and modernisation of the organisation and methods and investigation facilities, including the strengthening of the economic offences, CID and intelligence wings.

The only police commission established during the AIADMK regime was in 2014, which was headed by the former IAS officer, Sheela Priya. However, the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) directed that it be reconstituted with a retired judge as chairman.

Accordingly, the M.K. Stalin government has set up the Selvam Commission, with K. Allaudin, a retired IAS officer, K. Radhakrishnan, former DGP, C. Ramasubramanian, psychiatrist, and Nalini Rao, a former professor, as members, and Additional DGP Mahesh Kumar Aggarwal as Member-Secretary.

“We intend to go into a whole area of issues. We are just starting and putting our best foot forward. Definitely, we will do a whole lot of study and research about what we [the police] are…where we are. We will have to decide where we want to go on various issues. We will have to find ways to reach them,” Mr. Selvam told The Hindu.

Mr. Radhakrishnan explained, “We will examine the present method of recruitment, training, placement and performance appraisal, disciplinary control, accountability, career planning and professionalism and recommend ways to improve the human resources management, the interface between the police and the public, the behavioural aspects of police personnel and exposure to human rights aspects in policing.”

The commission will also examine the service conditions, especially pay, allowance and leave, housing, welfare schemes, the grievance redress mechanism and suggest improvements for the overall well-being of the police force.

Commending the composition of the commission, the former DGP and former AIADMK MLA, R. Nataraj, said its priorities should be to ensure police personnel reach out to the public and delivery of police services should reach the public in time without corruption. “That is the most important thing. Even now members of the public cannot go to a police station without fear. Sometime, the police commissions ended up recommending modernisation and more wings. What is the point of having more sophisticated weapons and specialised wings when you do not address the fear or inhibition of the public? So, the thrust of the commission should be on how to bridge the gap between the police and the public and improve the delivery of services and the infrastructure of police stations,” he said.

Incidentally, during the AIADMK government, The Tamil Nadu Police (Reforms) Act, 2013, was enacted. It entailed formation of a State Security Commission (SSC), headed by the Home Minister, which among other things, was to examine the functioning of the police force and submit annual reports. The enactment came against the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s directives in the Prakash Singh vs Union of India case to bring about police reforms. While the enactment is yet to trigger action on the ground, the Madras High Court recently called for reconstitution of the SSC in line with the Supreme Court guidelines.

The commission will examine the present method of recruitment, training, placement and performance appraisal.

The commission will examine the present method of recruitment, training, placement and performance appraisal. | Photo Credit: G. KARTHIKEYAN

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