The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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State stumbles on cop reforms
- Partial compliance with SC order

Ranchi, Jan. 3: In a hurried affidavit filed before the Supreme Court late in the evening today, Jharkhand government claimed to have notified the “State Security Commission” and separated the investigative and law-and-order wings in the police department.

The apex court had, in September last year, asked all states to file a compliance report by December 31 after instructing them to take a series of steps as part of police reforms. But the belated affidavit by the state government today reports only partial compliance as it sought more time to enforce a tenure for the director-general of police down to the officers-in-charge of police stations. The state government also prayed for time to set up “Police Complaints Authority” at the state and the district levels.

The Security Commission, which is expected to act as a watchdog, lay down guidelines for the police and ensure that the police acts according to the laws of the land, was also hurriedly notified today. Curiously, it is headed by chief minister Madhu Koda.

Even the separation of the investigative and law-and-order maintaining sections of the police appears to have been given effect only on paper. While the affidavit before the Supreme Court claims that the separation has initially taken effect in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad and Bokaro, Ranchi senior superintendent of police N.P. Singh claimed to have received no information or instruction from the home department.

The SC had given the directions hoping it would force state governments to usher in police reforms, making the functioning of the police more democratic and transparent.

But the Security Commission, notified by the state government today, has the usual suspects as members. Besides the chief minister, other members of the commission will be the chief secretary, the home secretary, the advocate-general and the leader of the Opposition. The DGP will be the ex-officio secretary. Since all of them are part of the “power structure”, it is not understood why they need to have a separate commission to issue guidelines. Surely the objective of the direction was to involve security experts from outside and more independent members'

Home secretary J.B. Tubid told The Telegraph that the state government would be nominating five independent members to the commission. Recommendations of the commission, he added, would be binding on the state government. The commission, he informed, would be evaluating the performance of the state police, prepare reports and place them before the legislature and also give suitable directions.

Explaining the delay in notifying a fixed tenure for police officers, the home secretary said the government was holding consultation on the draft police act received from the Government of India. “Thereafter, we would legislate on the issue,” he added.

The Soli Sorabjee Committee, constituted by the central government to draft a new Police Act in view of the changing role of police due to various socio-economic and political changes, had submitted the draft for a new Police Act on September 9, 2006.

The DGP, J. Mahapatra, said setting up the “complaints authority” would take some time because they are to be headed by retired district judges at the district level and a retired high court judge at the state level. Consent of the high court, he said, would be necessary before appointing them. An establishment board has been set up to decide on all transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters related to deputy superintendents of police and ranks below.

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