A ROUGE POLICE FORCE…
Yesterday (October 5, 2016) the Bar Association of Punjab & Haryana High Court and Progressive Lawyers Forum, a group of young lawyers, had jointly organised a seminar in the Judicial Academy Chandigarh. It was presided over by a bright and reputed, yet comparatively younger judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and addressed, amongst others, by a prominent and upright former top cop from U.P., an iconic senior advocate of the High Court, representatives of the organisers and some police officers from Punjab and Haryana. It was amusing to see a few of such participating top police guys, particularly from Punjab trotting behind sticking their necks out like ostriches.
Subject matter of the seminar was,’ POLICING in INDIA and THE CHALLENGES AHEAD. Though I had stood by my friendly organisers, but I was requested not to speak in the seminar because the organisers felt that if I speak therein, then it may turn out to be their ‘very first and the very last' of seminars, on the subject matter, which they ever will be able to organise; so I was happy doing errands for the organisers and then call it a day.
When I was a young police officer in the very first rank of an Assistant Superintendent of Police, I was asked to conduct inspection of a police station located at Lalru in Patiala district of Punjab. Somehow old monuments, manuscripts and things historical (excluding 'history sheeters', of course) fascinate me. During the inspection, I started rummaging through old records of British time, which was unceremoniously dumped in one of the damp semi collapsed room, its roof supported by bamboo poles, located in an obscure corner of the ramshackle building of the police station. In the heap of dust, filth and moist papers I found several interesting documents. One register marked confidential caught my attention. It was one of the mandatory confidential police records in which visiting senior police officers are supposed to record their impressions about the work and conduct of police officials posted in the police station. This document helps the successors and successive officers, visiting the police station, in understanding the staff till such time they forms their own impressions about them.
The register had an interesting entry there in by some British officer of pre-partition days. He had written, 'A BLOODY ROUGE', against the name of some police officer who was then posted in that police station, summarising his assessment about him. The next entry was of a couple of years later. The successor to that British officer, another Britisher had amended the observation of his predecessor and recorded, "YES, HE IS A BLOODY USEFUL ROUGE'. Finding it witty, I had a good laugh. But later, in the coming years I was to find the correct import of these two distinctive phrases. I realised that by joining the I.P.S., I had indeed joined a ROGUE service and a partly ROUGE force. One’s success as a police officer depends on his capacity of turning this BLOODY ROUGE group into a BLOODY USEFUL ROUGE group.
Ever since we became a sovereign nation; innumerable seminars, studies, symposiums, commissions, groups and all have been created to bring about the required change in police behaviour, but all in vain. More or less it still remains and will remain a rogue force. Police has always been, and shall remain, strong arm of the governance. It is what it was during the British time and it is so even today in the raj of ‘kurta pyjamas and head gears of different shapes and sizes’, primary reason being that our political masters don't want it to change. Most of the officials commanding this force also do not make any sincere effort to convert in to a 'bloody useful force'. Such officials, at various ranks, often consist of the feet or even butt licker variety and retain this distinctive character to remain on the right side of such goons of politicians. Yes, over the time period, fantastic investigative and law and order techniques have been introduced but more often than not, age old methods of third degree and of ‘lathi’ still remain the favourite. This also satisfies the sadistic whims of those of the politicians who love being rimmed and reward such of the butt licking officials with cushy and plum top jobs. Both, the rimmer and the rimmed are happy, ‘hisaab barabar’. Khallas.
Orders and stipulations of commissions and of courts, the Supreme Court included, on the issue of police reforms, are disobeyed, sidelined and dumped with impunity, making mockery thereof. Because of space crunch, I can not go into details but some examples are here. The stipulation about the fixed tenure of ‘cutting edge’ officials is circumvented either by creating a situation whereby the concerned official is ‘forced’ to either to 'voluntarily' proceed on leave or seek a posting out. Legal stipulations about the ‘senior’ and ‘junior’ police personnel boards, entrusted with the task of postings, transfers and promotions etc, is also often practically dispensed with. Orders emanate from the office of Chief Minister and ‘formal file’ is circulated by hand to obtain the signatures of official members, on the dotted line. Members of such ‘prestigious boards’ have no damn option but to sign or proceed on leave, to join back at some ‘sidelined’ post. More often than not such police officials remain consigned to the ‘training quota’.
A lot of lickers, who clean the butts to glory, are also nominated for such of the otherwise useful courses abroad which are mostly attended by Sergeant rank officials of foreign countries but only Indian participants come from the higher echelons and make no contribution thereafter to the training of the force.
The only way of reforming the police is to provide them with statutory provisions and then to hold them indivudially accountable. Individual accountability for any of the lapses is the only way to keep the force in rein and to force them to become, ‘bloody useful rouges. This accountability has to be both public and judicial.
Independent and upright Judicial scrutiny is the ultimate must…
Or forget police reforms...