Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Home Ministry swings magic wand, and henceforth police will register FIRs!

If good intentions could lead to good governance, we could already be living in Utopia or Ram Rajya or some such la la land of abundant peace and prosperity for all.

Recent directive by Ministry of Home Affairs to convert all police complaints into FIR is a knee-jerk reaction (yes reaction) to the recent news of an ex-DGP's indictment in a molestation case. However reprehensible that case is, the idea that conversion of all police complaints into FIR will lead to justice in society is a fantastical idea at best.

Firstly, don't the citizens have the right to know that if so far all police complaints were not being converted into FIRs, then what was the rationale behind that? Does it mean we were living in law of the jungle so far? If yes, then was Home ministry sleeping till this one incident came to light? If no, then what is the rationale now? Given the fact that most people are scared of going to police and would resort to that as a last option, what great benefit will accrue to citizens knowing that their complaint will be converted into FIR.

Is there a study conducted on how many people are able to get FIR copy easily, without paying bribe or through influence etc ? What will change regarding that now?

Read the news in deccan herald here:

Discipline them

“Govt should first ensure discipline of the police.”

The Union Home Ministry’s proposed directive to state governments that police stations be advised to treat all complaints they receive as first information reports (FIRs) is fraught with danger. The step is, without sounding cynical, all bark and no bite. Yes, S P S Rathore, the lecherous former Haryana director-general police, whose creepy behaviour caused Ruchika Girhotra to end her own life, exemplifies the abuse of authority. And yes, it has come to dismay a nation already weary of the canoodling and peccadilloes of a governor. Indian society has become a cesspool of tolerance.

As Indians, our collective memory is woefully short. It was not too far back in the past that one of India’s best known cops, K P S Gill, a former Punjab police chief, was let off lightly by the law after being proved he had slapped a lady IAS officer’s backside and ‘outraged’ the lady’s ‘modesty’. This country treats its VIPs, whether criminals in khaki or khadi, very well. There is no denying that there can be value, and even justice, in ensuring that bad and wayward behaviour, that is protected and even condoned, is exposed. But directing police stations to treat all complaints as FIRs is not the answer. A few years back, the Justice Malimath Committee on reforming the criminal justice system had pointed out that police stations routinely refuse to lodge even credible complaints.

While there are men in power who use their positions to shield themselves from the law, there are also innumerable number of cases in which alleged victims of spousal, sexual, workplace and other kinds of harassment have cynically, wilfully and deviously used specific provisions of the Indian Penal Code to their advantage. There are citizens who will attest to the vicious and malicious use of the IPC’s Section 498A that deals with dowry-related cases of cruelty. Also, fake police complaints are routinely used to settle scores, often by city-bred people. It is society’s under-privileged and dis-empowered whose valid and well-founded complaints are ignored and not taken cognisance of by police stations across the country. The Indian police and legal non-systems reflect a dangerous dysfunction. The Centre need not offer platitudes to state the obvious — that police stations must treat all complaints as FIRs. It must, along with the state governments, ensure that the police is disciplined — if need be by awarding exemplary punishments to individual offenders.

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