Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where’s the guarantee that Mumbai will not suffer another terror attack?



Where’s the guarantee that Mumbai will not suffer another terror attack, while the government sleeps?
July 20, 2011 12:21 PM Bookmark and Share
Vinita Deshmukh (this article appeared in MoneyLife digital)
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Maharashtra home department concedes in its reply to an RTI application that it has not implemented the nearly three-year-old directive of the Supreme Court to constitute the proposed security and police authorities to facilitate accountability and better governance 

It's no more a question of a 'tenacious', 'patient' or 'tolerant' Mumbai-it's been stretched beyond the elasticity of a rubber band. However, while Mumbai may have reached its breaking point, it seems that the powers-that-be would continue to let time pass and public memory fade, perhaps even do a bit of good to themselves by upgrading their own police protection.

The reason for such cynicism and underlying anger lies in the reply given by Maharashtra's home department to a query through the Right to Information Act by California-based activist and software techie Vishal Kudchadkar.

Post the co-ordinated terror attack on the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, the Oberoi Trident hotel, Cama Hospital and Nariman House (a Jewish community centre) in November 2008, Mr Kudchadkar filed an RTI application asking for details of the implementation of the State Security Commission; the Police Establishment Board and the Police Complaints Authority, as well as details of the implementation of the Model Police Act 2006. All these reforms have been made mandatory by a Supreme Court directive in order to enhance efficiency of the police force, enforce accountability and keep political interference in the functioning of this department at bay. However, the state government has slept over these vital reforms despite another directive by the highest judicial authority, as recently as in September 2008.

Mr Kudchadkar's application, which dates back to February 2009, asks for:
1.    The names and designations of the officials who are part of the above mentioned bodies.
2.    The procedure laid out for monitoring the above mentioned bodies.
3.    The dates and minutes of meetings conducted by the above mentioned bodies.
4.    With respect to the Police Complaints Authority (both state and district),
a.    The number of complaints received.
b.    The date on which each of the complaints was received.
c.    The action taken on each of the complaints.
d.    The action taken by the state government on the recommendations made by the Police Complaints Authority (both state and district).
5.    The reports sent to the Supreme Court regarding the performance of the above mentioned bodies.
6.    The steps taken by the government to publicise the constitution and workings of the above mentioned bodies.

In its reply to Mr Kudchadkar, the public information officer of the state home ministry has admitted that, "the Government of Maharashtra received the directions from the Supreme Court on 29 September 2008 on a writ petition (number 310/96) Prakash Singh versus the Union of India. As per the directives of the Supreme Court, the Government of Maharashtra has issued a government resolution (GR) dated 25 July 2008 for 'Constitution of Police Establishment Board', 'Constitution of Police Establishment Authority' and 'State Security Commission'. These orders are available on the official website of the Government of Maharashtra. If you are not satisfied with this information, you may appeal to the appellate authority, deputy secretary, home department.''

This establishes that for vested reasons, which clearly supersede the horrendous history of seven terror attacks in 12 years and the near war-like situation in the 26/11 attack, political will has been nullified. This despite the Supreme Court ordering the state government that, "The Hon'ble Supreme Court of India, while deciding the said writ petition by its judgement dated 22.9.2006, has held that it is essential to lay down guidelines to be operative till the new legislation is enacted by state governments.'' (It is necessary to mention here that the state government received a reminder in 2008.)

In its judgement, the Supreme Court has also said that the establishment of the three boards is to "ensure that the police is accountable essentially and preliminarily to the law of the land and the people". (And, not to politicians!)

Mr Kudchadkar subsequently filed a first appeal, but without satisfactory results. He is now awaiting a reply to his second appeal to the chief state information commissioner, Maharashtra, submitted back in July 2009. Mum's the word.

What would be the implication of the establishment of these boards? 

Constitution of the State Security Commission 
The State Security Commission will exercise powers and function as follows:
1.    Advise the state government on policy guidelines to promote efficient, effective, responsive and accountable policing of the state.
2.    Assist the state government in identifying performance indicators to evaluate the functioning of the police force. These indicators shall interalia, include the operational efficiency, public satisfaction, victimsatisfaction vis-à-vis police investigation and response, accountability, optimum utilisation of resources and observance of human rightsstandards.
3.    Review periodically the performance of the police force.
4.    Recommend steps to be taken for efficient performance of preventive tasks and service-oriented functions of the police force against (a) the performance indicators as identified and laid down by the Commission itself, (b) the resources available with and constraints faced by the police.
5.    Suggest policy guidelines for gathering information and statistics relating to police work.
6.    Suggest ways and means to improve efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and responsiveness of the police.
7.    Such other functions as may be assigned to it by the state government from time to time.
(The Board would have the deputy chief minister/minister in charge of the home department as chairperson; and leader of the opposition in the state legislative assembly, chief secretary and additional chief secretary as members as well as two non-official members-one of them preferably a woman and the director general of police.)

Constitution of the Police Establishment Board 
1.    The Police Establishment Board shall decide all transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters of officials of and below the rank of inspector of police. However, transfers will be decided within the purview of the Maharashtra Government Servants Regulation of Transfer and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Duties Act, 2006.
2.    The Board shall be authorised to make appropriate recommendations to the state government regarding postings and transfers of officers of and above the rank of deputy superintendent of police and the state government shall give due weightage to those recommendations.
3.    The Board shall also function as a forum of appeal for disposing off representations from officers of and below the rank of police inspector regarding their promotions, transfer, disciplinary proceedings, or their being subjected to illegal or irregular orders subject to the provisions of further appeal to the government under existing rules and regulations.
4.    The Board shall be authorised to make appropriate recommendations to the state government on the grievances received from the police officer of and above the rank of deputy superintendent regarding their promotions, disciplinary proceedings and other service matters after analysing the same according to prevailing rules and regulations.
5.    The Board shall generally review the functioning of the state police.
6.    The Board shall exercise such other functions as may be assigned to it by the state government from time to time.

(The Board would have the director general of police as chairperson, and additional director general of police (establishment); additional director general of police (law & order); commissioner of police, Mumbai; inspector general of police (establishment) as members. Such a Board should also be established at district levels.)

Constitution of police complaints authorities 
1.    Look into the complaints against police officers of the rank of deputy superintendent of police/asst commissioner of police and above in respect of misconduct, dereliction of duty, misuse of power, corruption, negligence, or any other matter which may be referred to it by the state government.
2.    Require any person to furnish information on such points or matters as in the opinion of the authority may be useful for or relevant to the subject matter of inquiry.
3.    Make appropriate recommendations to the state government on any case inquired into by it.

(The chairman of the Board will be a retired judge of the Mumbai High Court or a retired police officer of the state government who has held a post in the rank of director general of police, or a retired officer who has worked as chief secretary/additional chief secretary/principal secretary in the state government. The members will include an officer of the rank of secretary to the state government, a person of eminence appointed by the state government and an officer not below the rank of additional director general of police nominated by the government.)

Clearly, while heads must roll and the home ministry must be grilled for yet another terror attack, police reforms are the key to improving governance and law enforcement. However, most state governments are dilly-dallying, despite the strong Supreme Court order. For the record, former IPS officer Prakash Singh and others had filed a writ petition after the central government slept over an eight-part report of the National Police Commission (NPC) 1981.

(Vinita Deshmukh is a senior editor, author and convener of Pune MetroJagruti Abhiyaan. She can be reached at vinitapune@gmail.com.)

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5 Comments
RNandakumar 6 days ago
Thank God there is supreme court but for whom even the 2G Scam would have disappeared without a trace. All Mumbaikars should start demanding action. If by that action evidence is found of the involvement of elements of POK then India should act militarily to cleanse the area of the pests. Pak and China might protest. We should care two hoots for such a protest. I am sure UK, USA, Japan and Europe would support us in view of their recent experience of Binladen by USaction. Israel should be our partner in action. Maharashtra should compul MMS that India has guts.
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Narendra Doshi 6 days ago
Inspiring efforts by an NRI for we Indians brought in focus by none other than tireless Vinita Madam.
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captainjohann 6 days ago
There will be attacks in future also as long as the Media is obsessed with irrelevant things like Murdocch. There was one Jawan who was killed in J&K the day Murdoch was being grilled, nobody bothered about him, his family or even his Name. But this Rebecca brooks is in my memory and i condemn the Indian visual and print media for this blasphemy.Police reforms is not the solution which will rreplace politicians with ips officers.What we need strengthening the Beat constable and also SHOs.
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Nitin Kirtane 6 days ago
After 26/11, now 13/7 , and a new attack on Mumbai still no answers from our leaders , same old excuses , when will they wake up , take away their security and then they will understand , if there are no proper implementations we will have another attack, why no implementations of the Pradhan committee , or atleast give police a free hand to buy latest equipments , an excellent article by Mrs Deshmukh and at this crucial time to take up this issue , keep up the good work ,
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vishwas 6 days ago
another incisive article by Vinita.Let us hope someone in Govt is listening.we desperately need some Governance we cannot go on drifting aimlessly too long.
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