WRITTEN by a former Director General of Police, Director of Indian Police Academy and Director General in National Human Rights Commission, this book explores the sensitive issue of police accountability to civilian oversight bodies to control police excesses.
Policing a democratic society is a difficult job. Protection of the fundamental rights of the people and compliance with law are the twin pillars of good policing in a democratic society. With a marked increase in violent crimes, acts of terrorism aided by sophisticated explosive devices, contempt for the suffering of thousands of innocent victims, the inadequacies of the criminal justice system and the frequent extremely liberal judicial attitudes raise some difficult issues. There is an increasing tendency to achieve political objectives by resorting to violent means and “redraw national boundaries by blood”. Strong laws granting adequate powers to the law enforcement machinery are necessary to protect the society, for which the essential prerequisite is the assurance that the vast powers are not abused. Thus the exercise of police power has to be subjected to checks and balances in order to be incredible, be reliable as well as effective in their operation and must be perceived as such by members of the community.
The author says, “Bad application or promiscuous use of powers to limit a person’s human rights by such means of arrest, house-searches, stop and search lead to bad relationships with the entire neighbourhood, thereby rendering effective policing of those neighbourhoods impossible.” It is trite that the efficiency of the police rests on public confidence. It is the public that supplies intelligence and information and without public support, it is only a vain policeman who thinks that he can do without public faith and support.
In India the police accountability is poor. The police remain beholden to the ruling party. The political masters want the police to remain beholden to them and not function “as genuine custodians of the rights and freedom of the people.” Working of the oversight bodies and their impact on the police functioning and the viewpoints of the complainants have been discussed in different chapters of the book. The real challenge thus before the oversight bodies is to convince the police leaders that “adherence to rules and human rights norms will help the police to enjoy greater trust and cooperation from the civilians and function more efficiently.” The country needs professional and accountable police and “for this a strong movement of the civil society is called for,”says the author.
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