Archive for December 29, 2009

Home Ministers dictate to states, bold step in police reforms. Ruchika case helps…..

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Home Minister P Chidambaram, may prove to be the man with direction to make the police force better.

Ruchi ka case helps to initiate a step in the direction of clensing the system, yet there is very long way to go.  This will be considered as a major first major step forward in bring the police reoforms.

Keen to avoid another Ruchika Girhotra – like case, the government has decided to make immediate registration of FIRs mandatory for all cognisable offences so that investigations can begin quickly.

To ensure the new system works, an accountability clause is being weaved into a proposed amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) that will hold station house officers (SHOs) responsible if this is not done.

The home ministry has decided to send a circular to police chiefs of all states and union territories, informing them of the proposed amendment on compulsory registration of FIRs.

Under this, any complaint made to a police station regarding a cognisable offence – under which an arrest can be made without a warrant – will automatically be treated as an FIR. Sources said the reason behind the move is to ensure quick action. The Ruchika case had exposed the flaws in the system. It had taken nine years and directions from the court for an FIR to be registered, by which time the budding tennis player had committed suicide.

According to home minister P. Chidambaram, “All complaints must be registered as FIRs and investigated. If a complaint is found to be false, the FIR should be ruthlessly cancelled. But it must be made a point to register all complaints as FIRs promptly as this would increase the confidence of the public for the police. We are totally against non-registration of FIRs and I, in fact, even favour online complaints from the public to be registered as FIRs.” A senior home ministry official said that after going through the Ruchika case files, the minister decided to issue the circular to all states and union territories.

“Even though it is already a law that all cognisable offences should be registered as FIRs, the police blatantly disregard this and resort to conducting checks and enquiries to determine if a complaint is genuine. The home ministry wants state police forces to do away with these checks before lodging FIRs,” the official said.

Former police chiefs have responded to the proposed amendment by saying that the changes will put enormous pressure on the system, but that the government appeared to be finally paying heed to a much-needed demand for police reform.

Referring to the Ruchika case as an instance of all that could go wrong with a probe, a senior home ministry official said, “The fact remains that it (the assault on Ruchika) being a cognizable offence, the SHO of Panchkula police station should have immediately lodged an FIR and begun the probe. But this was not done for nine years. Hence, no probe could begin for a decade.” The official pointed out that the SHO, DGP R. R. Singh or even the state home secretary did not need anyone’s permission to lodge an FIR in the Ruchika case and begin the probe into the cognisable offence.

Another official said that several citizens, during their interactions with Chidambaram, had said that the police did not register cases to keep the crime figures down in areas within their jurisdiction.

“Mandatory and immediate registration of all complaints as FIRs is hence being recommended,” he said.

Former Delhi Police commissioner and ex-chief of the National Security Guard (NSG), Ved Marwah, said the home ministry was responding to a long-felt need for change.

“I can only hope that the home ministry circular has the desired impact on the state police forces. The reasons for non-registration of cases is mainly due to orders by political bosses to keep crime figures down as it would create a bad image for the government and make things difficult during elections. But now, as a politician in the form of Chidambaram is himself advocating the changes, I am hopeful that it will have the right impact,” said Marwah.

Former police officer Kiran Bedi said, “The country has finally woken up to the need to ensure that all crimes are registered.

This has been one of the major reasons for corruption and loss of trust and faith in Indian policing. For the first time the country will get to know how much crime did not get reported. But then we have to prepare the courts too to receive more of the work load.” Former DGP of Uttar Pradesh and exchief of the Border Security Force (BSF), Prakash Singh, said the home ministry’s idea may not practical.

“There will be a huge pressure on the system if all complaints are registered as FIRs without the basic enquiries. I am not sure how the society would react as such a step would lead to tremendous escalation in crime figures. We should instead try and change the work culture of the police force,” he said.

However, home ministry officials said that compulsory registration of FIRs was crucial to the success of the ambitious Crime and Criminal Tracking System (CCTNS) project being implemented by the home ministry, which aims to link all police stations in the country.

An official, however, admitted that a key challenge for implementing the compulsory FIR plan was to have the requisite number of policemen in the ranks as investigating officers.

According to the ministry, all the states and union territories together have a sanctioned strength of 17,46,215 policemen as on January 1, 2008. But, there were nearly 3,00,000 vacancies in these ranks. Home ministry estimates say that states would recruit over 4,00,000 constables by the end of 2011 to fill this gap.

There is need also to find a mechnism which will deter the fake and false compalints, this angle is imprtant or else there will be huge confussion and over load of work and in the process the real and genuine coplainants will be again put to sufferings and many innocent people may be effected and another type of problem may cropup.