The Hindu: National/New Delhi, 10th July 2011
Most complaints are against the police every year: NHRC
A report on police atrocities and the immediate need for police reforms was released here on Saturday by Additional Solicitor-General Indira Jaising who observed that decriminalisation of crime often happens at police stations when cops dismiss complaints brought before them as “family matters”.
The report, “Are the Indian police a law unto themselves?” brought out by National Social Watch, observed that superiors “constantly converted” subordinate police officers into instruments of human rights violation and torture. The report also envisages clear separation of the investigation function from law and order, importance of gender training and the tackling of caste biases of cops.
The NSW report is also critical of the Central and State governments for their lack of enthusiasm in implementing Supreme Court directives on human rights. The report also recommends improved working conditions, training and equipment; creating a work culture that rewards respect for human rights and professional conduct; a system to investigate complaints of police abuse; a law against torture; and repeal of laws that enable police to function with impunity.
Ms. Jaising in her address also pointed out that while the Police Act of 1861 noted that ‘neglect of duty will be dealt by government', there was no clarity on the definition of “neglect of duty”.
Former IPS officer K. S. Subramanian, the author of the report, said: “According to National Human Rights Commission, among the 70,000 complaints they receive, most are against the police every year.”
National Convener of Social Watch India Amitabh Behar said there was a “tremendous decline” in civil society initiatives on civil and political rights. Most such initiatives now focus on social and cultural rights, he added.
Senior journalist Seema Mustafa said that in the 1980s, the media used to work as a watchdog of the police and the other government institutions, a role which is increasingly being taken up by NGOs.
She flagged police atrocities in Kashmir where several youth have died at the hands of the police, but no action was taken against erring police officers.