December 8, 2010

talk of police police reforms? they're not ready to even file an FIR

Five years back, the Supreme Court had directed State governments to implement police reforms. Not only have the States taken shelter behind lame excuses, the Centre too has not done enough to encourage States in reforming the police system. The Court had to issue fresh directions, but – going by the past experience – States would again buy time. Mind it, the reforms that the Court is talking about is just one bit, not broader reforms.

The total lack of will to reform police, even abhorrence to it, is understandable. States fear that in the name of reforms, the police will get more autonomy from government. Thus, the authority of the political rulers of the states to use police for their not-so-clean jobs will get eroded. A professional police force would resist illegal and extra-legal actions on behalf of the rulers that a corrupt and highly pliable police force is prone to. Besides, the rulers would not be able to threaten law-abiding policemen with transfers, or demand ‘weekly’ collections.

India News Today notes one good direction from the Delhi High Court to Delhi Police. The Court has directed that all FIRs be made available online. This will lead to transparency at least to the extent that people, NGOs, victims, government, and the courts would know the details of FIRs. This however needs to be supported with a complementary administrative action: police must be made to file FIRs in the first place. Police are reluctant to file FIRs even when the occurrence of a heinous crime is evident, to keep their records clean, to extort money from the accused with the threat to lodge FIR, and to avoid follow up action after the FIR. Will the government dare to take that step?

"The copies of the FIR, unless reasons recorded regarding the nature of the offence that the same is sensitive in nature, should be uploaded on the Delhi Police website within 24 hours of lodging of the FIR so that the accused or any person connected with the same can download the FIR and file appropriate application before the court as per law for redressal of his grievances," Delhi High Court, on 7th December, 2010

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