February 7, 2012, 9:24 AM IST.Chidambaram: Poor Conditions ‘Dehumanize’ Police.
In an interview, India’s Minister for Home Affairs P. Chidambaram, the country’s top law enforcement official, addressed the issues of corruption and lawlessness in the police force and described his government’s reform efforts. This post accompanies a front-page article by WSJ Mumbai reporter Geeta Anand on corruption in India’s police force published today. An edited transcript:
WSJ: What has your Congress Party-led government done to improve law enforcement in India?
P.C.: At the level of administration of criminal justice and the level of policing, these are matters which fall exclusively under the states’ jurisdiction. We have tried to help, or, if you wish, put in checks and balances by creating a number of institutions — for example, the human rights commission — at the national level and at the state level. Then there are commissions that deal with the most vulnerable sections, the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women and children. There are commissions on each one of these sections at the national level, but most states have commissions at the state level as well.
The Supreme Court has laid down a set of minimum measures for police reform. Now, we impress upon the states the need to put in place these mechanisms. For example, a committee to decide on transfers and postings at the state level, another committee to deal with complaints against police. Many states have put in place these committees, some have not.
Even where states have put in place these committees, many of them are not quite functional and don’t really exercise the authority that they are expected to exercise. The Supreme Court continues to hear the cases and pull up the states (that) have either not set up committees, or, having set up the committees, have not empowered them. We fully support these reforms, which the Supreme Court has laid down.
WSJ: One frequent criticism is the corruption of the police forces. Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro, among others, told me that corruption has become systematized in hiring so that applicants for the position of constable are routinely asked to pay bribes in order to get the jobs. That money goes to state politicians, who not only influence hiring, but also the discipline, transfers and postings of officers on the entire police force, these critics say. They say police commissioners feel compelled to heed the wishes of politicians because they control postings and transfers of the police commissioners. This scenario means the police commissioner doesn’t control his men and there’s little discipline in the force, these critics say.
P.C.: Well, I accept the criticism. I accept the criticism but I would have liked the critics to have implemented reforms when they were in office, not criticized their successors when they have retired. All of these very fine police officers headed police offices at some time or another and that is when they should have implemented reforms.
Click here to read the full transcript: Chidambaram: Poor Conditions ‘Dehumanize’ Police
Comment: What has the Home Minister done to investigate the secret swiss bank account holders. Most criminals are protected by Politicians and some of them are criminals themselves. Can Politicians cleanse the Police when both are working in tandem?
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