Probe wing of police not answerable to political bosses: Court told

Monday, January 17, 2011

NEW DELHI - The investigative wing of the police force is a part of the criminal justice delivery system and it was not answerable to a minister or the political bosses, the Supreme Court was told Monday.

The apex court was hearing submissions on the report of the monitoring committee headed by Justice (Retd.) T.K. Thomas on the implementation of police reforms as directed by the apex court in 2006.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice Aftab Alam and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan was told that anything that compromises the independent functioning of the police is a breach of the theory of checks and balances in the web of separation of powers in the administrative domain.

The principle of separation of powers between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary were equally valid for the independence of the police, particularly its investigative wing vis–vis the political executive.

Senior counsel Harish Salve said this after he was told that the court will hear the suggestions for implementation of police reforms only if they were within the framework of the constitution and parameters of statues and regulations. The court said: “We want this matter to be argued within the constitutional frame.”

The court asked in what way the relationship between a minister and his secretary was different from that with the police. Salve told the court that the investigative wing of the police force was a part of the criminal justice delivery system and for this the investigative wing was not answerable to the minister or the political bosses.

In 2008, the Justice Thomas Committee was set up to monitor the implementation of the police reforms. Justice Thomas in his report submitted to the court has said that none of the states have implemented the apex court’s directions on police reforms. The court gave its directions on police reforms in Prakash Singh’s case.

Police reforms as directed by the apex court involved insulating the police force from political arm twisting, separation of policing duties from investigation duties, fixed tenure of police officer at all levels, grievance redressal mechanism and involving the UPSC in the empanelment of officers for the selection of DGP.

Salve said the actual functioning of the police machinery could only be gauged from the ground level. He submitted a note on the Banda incident in Uttar Pradesh in which a ruling BSP MLA had raped a minor girl.

The way things function at ground level could be known if a judicial authority in Allahabad was asked to submit a report on the incident to this court. The court said that it would treat the note as an application in the instant case and initiate further proceedings.

Earlier, Amicus Curiae Raju Ramachandran said that asking the Union Public Service Commission to prepare a panel of three people to decide the next Director General of State Police was in no way breach of state government’s powers under the constitutional scheme of things.

The senior counsel said that after all the final decision on the selection of DGP would rest with the state government.

He said that India Police Service Officers are part of the all India service in which UPSC comes into picture from recruitment stage and remains in the picture in the event of initiating disciplinary proceedings against an officer.

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