(Sample Material) Gist of IIPA Journal: Police and Good Governance: Promotion of Human Rights Ved Marwah

(Sample Material) Gist of Important Articles from IIPA Journal

Topic: Police and Good Governance: Promotion of Human Rights Ved Marwah

Police Performance—Measures Needed for Improvements

The present system of administrative and political supervision over the police suffers from many distortions. After separation of the executive from the judiciary, with the amendment of Criminal Procedure Code in 1973, the so-called magisterial control has lost its original motivation. The entire control has passed on to the political rulers. Not surprisingly, the police tend to be the handmaiden of the politic of rulers of the day. There is no alternative to creating institutional mechanisms to insulate the police from arbitrary administrative and political control, and to subject it to the control of an agency, like the Security Commission, which functions in non-partisan manner and holds the-Rule of Law and public interest as the sole- criteria for judging police performance.

Mechanisms of Accountability

The existing mechanisms of accountability need to be refined and enlarged to ensure that the police does-not take recourse to illegal methods. For the sake: of so-called “practical considerations”, the police is expected to take recourse to extra-legal measures for crime control as well as for maintenance of order. Few question their use as long as they achieve the desired results. The term “legalistic police officer” is used commonly in a derogatory sense, to describe a weak and non-performing police officer. There is need for strengthening the traditional mechanisms as well while creating of new, mechanisms to enforce individual as well as organisational accountability of the police.

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There is need for creating external mechanisms, like the creation of public grievances and complaints cells, to inquire into complaies against police officers. The National Police Commission has recommended creation of these cells to make the police more accountable and responsive. The police officers have to get out of their habit of only calculating the likely political consequences of their actions for advancing their own careers, even if in the process they have to ignore ‘the grievances of the victims. As aptly said, “the Rule of Law has been subverted by the rule of polities”.

Mandatory Enquiries in Custodial Deaths, Computerization, and Emphasis on Specialization

There should be mandatory provision for a judicial inquiry in cases of death in police custody. The NPC’s, recommendation for removal of legal provision to seek prior permission of the government for ‘filing a complaint’ against, it police officer in a court should be accepted, but at the same time there should be a provision of imposing deterrent fine and punishment in case the complaint is proved, to be false and motivated. Specific determinants to evaluate police performance should be laid down to replace the current practice of depending on crime statistics. The members of state legislatures and Parliament should be educated about the harm this system of depending too much on the statistics is doing to be functioning of the police.

The over hundred-year old system of maintaining police records of crime and criminals has become non-functional because of huge increase in the number of crimes and criminals. The technological revolution in the information and communication technology has opened new vistas for its complete transformation. Computerization of the police records cannot be postponed-any longer. But computerization will not help unless police officers right up to the level of a constable, have technical ability to use computers.

The job of maintaining public order has become much more complicated. Traffic management, crowd control and organised crimes are examples of areas which require high level of expertise.

Specialisation in different aspects of policing, such as Intelligence, investigation and the armed wing is necessary and should be introduced after an assessment of their aptitude and inclination. Only a professional body of well-trained and motivated police officers can deal with difficult and complicated problems of today. Even a beat constable needs familiarization with modern technology for communication and access to data and information on criminals. To function in the Technology, the police requires technological Upgradation and an element of specialisation and professionalism.

Causes of Brutalization

The problem of police brutality has been with us for a long time. It is as old as the police force. Nor is it confined to any one country. A distinction must be drawn between the legitimate use of force by the police and its illegal use. The nature of police work is such that it has to sometimes use force in the legitimate discharge of its duties. It is only when police officers use force not sanctioned by law that one talks of police brutality. Even in the case of legitimate use of force, the police is expected to use minimum force. The use of force can be termed as illegal, if in its use due care and caution is not exercised as it is more than the required minimum.
Why do police officers indulge in brutal and inhuman acts? One answer be could that like every large organisation, the police force has Its quota of rotten eggs, and it is they who indulge in these illegal acts for sadistic reasons or for personal ends. But that is only part of the answer. If these were only factors, the solution to, the problem would not be that difficult. Tightening of disciplinary control and punishment of the delinquent police officers would deter them and achieve the desired objectives.

Systemic Compulsions and Need of Quick-fix Solutions

The problem of brutalization and the use of third-degree methods in the police is more difficult and complex. The larger majority of cases of police brutality take place not because of individual aberration but because of systemic compulsions. The practice is more widespread than we would like to believe. It could not have gone on unchecked since the British days, if there was no open or tacit support from not only of senior police officers, but also of other wings of the governmental various levels, including judiciary. The practice also enjoys the support of a large section of public opinion in the belief that it is necessary for maintenance of law and order. Many people at the highest political, administrative and academic levels are not really against what practice as long as it is used to control crime and to take action against what is broadly called anti-social and anti-national elements. The advocates of the policy of firmness against crime and criminals are not very small in numbers.

A part of the problem also lies in the aggressive enforcement, of law and order as a quick-fix solution to the problem of rising crime, without tacking the root-cause of increase in crime. A swing from the tolerance of crime to zero tolerance can create and environment in which extra-legal police excesses enjoy considerable public support.

Police officers are told that they are soldiers in the war against crime. Is it them that in their crusade against crime that they react very strongly when their authority and sense of order is challenged? Of course, the response is more violent when the person challenging the police with physical violence, or even abusive behaviour, happens to be a member of a ‘hated’ racial or religious group.

The use of third-degree methods in interrogation or a suspect is not uncommon in many countries, including India. This-serious problem exists, and it must be faced. Wishing it away will not help. The violations of human rights are committed more often by a, motivated and committed police officer and net by a corrupt and ineffective police officer. The police alone should not be entrusted-with the task of prevention of crime. Most of the factors that cause crime do not fall within the role of the police.

Need to Involve other Agencies in Crime Prevention

The level of social breakdown in many cities is unprecedented. The sub-human conditions in which a large part of the population live in ghettos of these cities is unbelievable. There is an acute collapse of social structure. No police force, even the most effective one, can by itself prevent all crimes. It is this misconception about the role of the police is the primary cause for such brutal police behaviour. Judge, jury and executioner — that is how policemen, under sever pressure of operating a society riddled with extra-legal influence, start viewing themselves. The worst among them, basking in the macho-image of super-cops bestowed of them by the media, do not appear to be too unhappy with simultaneously playing the role of legislature, judiciary and executive. They become the role model for the rest of the police force.

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