(Sample Material) Gist of IIPA Journal: Police Reform - New Imperatives T. Ananthachari

(Sample Material) Gist of Important Articles from IIPA Journal

Topic: Police Reform - New Imperatives T. Ananthachari


Rising Faith in Mercenaries

When we critically examine those aspects of our society, which are crucial for social and societal harmony, prevalence of a sense of justice and fair play, three things stand out, among a variety of others. Because of the continuing failure of the traditional public apparatus to solve even ordinary problems effecting the day-to-day existence of the common man and the consequent loss of confidence and faith in the government machinery (including the police) ability and willingness to look after his interests, a tendency has grown to take law into one’s own hands and, if necessary, take the help of muscle men and organised mercenaries (who have strong criminal links). Such a development is’ indicative of not only a “soft State” but also the road to anarchy. When developments of this kind are not arrested with the help of efficient, fair and prompt administrative measures, the police becomes susceptible to all kinds of manipulations, some of which may be unquestionably against national interest. Unfortunately, we are witnessing such a development in the country.

Race Between Agencies to Impress Political Masters

The second important development affecting the society as a whole is the insecure rat race among the various branches of administration to out-smart each other—not so much to do the right thing and do good to the society, but to ingratiate themselves to the political masters of the day—however temporary they may be—in out-witting each other in doing wrong things and disregarding and violating rules and regulations. Police and other law enforcement agencies have also lent themselves to such temptations. But this is only one aspect of the problem. From the later 1960s, failures in taking prompt and timely political and administrative decisions and enforcing such decisions have resulted in a large variety of public issues being converted into law and order problems. Examples of this would be matters relating to land reforms, socio-economic legislations, like bonded labour, moneylenders, untouchability, protection of civil rights, laws relating to women, etc. Such a development, besides putting enormous and untenable burden on the law and order machinery, has led to general disregard for laws and erosion of faith in the bonafides of the administration as a whole.

Passing Difficult Decision-Making Situations to Judiciary

This process has not stopped there. The latest trend is to remit problems to the judiciary and try to “absolve” the political authority of its responsibilities. This is a trend, which is not without its dangerous consequences when matters, which are in the domain of the political decision-making, are either converted into law and order and/or passed on to the judiciary, new compulsions, irritants and uncertainties develop which duly influence (no doubt adversely) the overall harmony in society and avoidable aggressiveness results. Then post-haste constitutional amendments and enactment of unpopular laws are resorted to, often for political appeasement. In the process, it makes a mockery of the very judicial process which is the backbone of an open society and a secular democracy. In recent times, a tendency is being noticed on the part of the judiciary to take on itself, which is best left to the executive to decide (i.e., the judicial intervention in Hazratbal). This has many adverse implications, which have to be guarded against repeated involvement and intervention of the judiciary (including through public cause litigation) in such matters which can bring down the general regard to judiciary, which we can ill-afford. Secondly, judicial interventions take away the’ scope of flexibility and adjustments, which are so essential to find political solutions, particularly in a country of the complexities like India. Thirdly, by this means, political authorities not merely abdicate their responsibilities, but also manoeuvre to get short-term gains, even if such a step may have serious adverse long-term consequences. The cumulative effect of the above kind of developments cannot but debilitate the health and well-being of the country, lower the respect for law and aggravate the intensity of law and order. All these ultimately tell upon the law enforcement efforts. Judicial intervention, when it extends to the frontiers of executive action, can, as explained above, be self defeating. What is more, it can have serious implications for functioning of democracy itself. While politicians may find it a convenient arrangement for the present, it is bound to lead to further politicization of the judiciary. When that happens, the best safeguard for citizen in a democracy would he gone. We would have then Police Raj with judicial backing.

Increasing Use of Army in Enforcing Order

In the context of maintaining order and law enforcement, the other development of importance is the repeated and increasing use of the Army in wide ranging internal situations and also the new fashionable trend of appointing defence personnel for handling day-to-day civil chores, like advisors to Governments and Governors. No imputations are being made about individual officers, who have distinguished themselves in their own right in their career. But the fact is that we are unwilling to accept the need to strengthen, rectify and recast our law and order apparatus which is creating the above kind of compulsions. Instead we are looking for and. in fact, resorting to practices which have the potential to undermine democratic norms and all that goes with them. The developments in this regard are neither fair to the Defence Services nor for democracy. Why are we unwilling to genuinely and sincerely initiate the kind of reforms and changes relating to police functioning. structure and its capability so that we can spare the Defence Services the peace time burden, which we are now unreasonably casting on them?

Increasing Role of Intelligence Agencies

The third clement in the troika, which is adversely affecting policing vis-a-vis democracy, is the manner in which intelligence agencies are being encouraged to dominate in the field of law and order management. There is no need no stress the importance of the role of intelligence in any modern day administration. Its role has become all the more vital and crucial in the light of the external factors affecting the internal security developments. But this does not mean that “intelligence’: and “police” are inter-changeable and “intelligence collection” and “policing” are synonymous. Police duties involve law enforcement, open dealings and accountability to among others courts of law. It requires acquiring a variety of professional skills, one of which is intelligence. In a democracy and in the context of multi-lingual multi-religious facet of our democracy, the police policies and actions have to carry with them not only the stamp of professionalism but also non-partisan openness. Police have to live among and exist very close to the sections of society for whose benefit they exist. In the case of the intelligence machinery, all these considerations may not be valid or relevant. In any case, in their case, accountability seems to be suspect. Therefore, the recent trend of intelligence agencies, dominating the police scene and even emerging as the advisors to government in regard to police matters, has serious implications not only for nurturing true professional leadership within the police forces but also sustaining and buttressing true democratic norms and practices.

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