Brutal assault on ACP: Have criminals lost all fear of Delhi Police?

New Delhi: What’s wrong with the Delhi Police? Criminals in the capital seem to have lost all fear, let alone respect, for the men in khaki. On Thursday evening, an ACP of the Delhi Police Special Cell was brutally assaulted by unidentified men near Lodhi crematorium in South Delhi on 16 October. However, that’s only the latest in the series of such attacks. Check this out.

* Five unidentified gunmen shot dead a constable, Jagvir Singh, and injured another in Outer Delhi’s Vijay Vihar area in wee hours on 13 October. The incident occurred around 500 metres away from a police station.

* Just two days before the last incident, two cops on duty were fired upon by three assailants riding on a motorbike at Shankar Market in Connaught Place on 11 October. One constable suffered injuries in the assault.

* Three men on a bike opened fire in Sector 21, Dwarka. A home guard also suffered injuries in the attack. The criminals, who were later nabbed, stole the cop’s service pistol.

* A constable was shot at while chasing alleged gangster Firoz, who was killed in the encounter, on 15 June.

* A sub-inspector was attacked and looted at Paharganj locality in Central Delhi on 17 February, 2013.

 Brutal assault on ACP: Have criminals lost all fear of Delhi Police?

Representational Image. Reuters

Why is this so? Data released in April this year by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reveals that the Delhi Police has 83,762 personnel to provide security to 1.67 crore Delhiites. But out of the total strength, only 38,762 (30 percent) are available for ensuring safety and security of common people, while a whopping 45,000 cops have been assigned the task of guarding either VIPs or government offices.

In other words, only one cop has been deployed for the security of 450 citizens while 20 cops guard one VIP.

The deteriorating law-and-order situation in the national capital also strengthens the previous Sheila Dikshit-led Congress and the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party governments’ demands of bringing Delhi Police under the control of the state government.

Here are four reasons why Delhi should have its own police:

Law and order is a state subject

As per the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution, law and order is a state subject and therefore, state police report to respective chief ministers. Since Delhi was declared a state rather than a Union Territory in 1993 and was granted full statehood in 2003, it should also have control over the police.

“With its strength of 83,762 staff, Delhi Police is the largest metropolitan police in the world. It is ironical that a state with a population of 1.67 crore - double that of Switzerland and Israel – has no say on its policing. A federally-run police force could have been justified during colonial era when a tight control over the population was needed. There is no justification to continue that arrangement when democratic decentralization is the trend all over the world,” argues V Balachandran, former special secretary at Cabinet Secretariat in his article published in The Sunday Guardian.

The Washington DC Police, which is a municipal police force, is controlled and supervised by the mayor, not by the federal government. It is responsible for maintaining law and order, except in designated areas.

Close monitoring

“The Ministry of Home Affairs, which is primarily responsible for national security, cannot offer an effective policing to common man. Close monitoring of day-to-day civil administration should be given to the state government; whereas, security of foreign dignitaries and other VVIPs should be looked after by the Union Home Ministry,” Prakash Singh, former director general of UP police, told Firstpost.

Technically, the Delhi Assembly (the Delhi government) is barred by Article 239AA(3)(a) from passing laws on three subjects, including public order and police.

Accountability

“Delhi Police can be made more accountable by bringing it under the control of the Delhi government. Why is it that when there is a major crime in Delhi, nobody protests against the home ministry which controls the Delhi police? Why are the Delhi Police or the Delhi government always targeted and protests are staged outside Delhi Police headquarters?” asks Singh.

Autonomy of the state government

The autonomy of the Delhi government is compromised because of the present system in which the bureaucrats in the MHA have more powers over the Delhi Police than a democratically elected chief minister. A mid-level officer in the MHA can overrule the order of the Delhi chief minister over posting or transfer of a top cop.

However, not all agree that Delhi needs to be under the state government to be more efficient.

Former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar told Firstpost, “Bringing Delhi Police under the jurisdiction of the state government is not at all necessary. What impact will it have on law-and-order situation in city? It is totally a non-issue and a bogus demand, which can prove to be suicidal. Apart from being a state, Delhi is a national capital as well. Foreign dignitaries keep visiting the city and if any law-and-order situation arises with the foreign dignitaries, the central government will have to approach the state government for cooperation which will lead to chaos. When there is no consensus on political issues between the state and the centre, how can one expect that there will be coordination between the state and central police?”

When asked if the Delhi Police are no longer dreaded by criminals, as the recent attacks on cops suggest, he said, “First of all, I do not accept that the above mentioned incidents of attacks on policemen form a trend and will keep happening. Even if I accept it as a trend, it will be wrong to conclude that criminals are no longer afraid of police. In fact, fear of law has decreased and of course, the police to an extent. It is not only police that should be blamed, the criminal justice system also needs to be reformed.”

“The police investigate a case and file a chargesheet, but the trials take a long time and finally accused gets acquitted. In most of the cases, the accused get bail and roam around scot free. To check crime and improve law-and-order situation, there should be harsher implementation of law so that culprits will have fear,” he added.

Because of hawk-eye of human rights organisations on police functioning, cops generally avoid encounters. As a result, criminals are no longer left with the fear that if they try to mess with the police, they will be killed, Kumar said adding that he “personally does not support police encounter as in most of the cases, it is found to be fake”.

Interestingly, he considers deployment of police here and there a reason behind lessening of its fear. “The police in the city is overexposed. If a policeman goes in village, it frightens criminals there but here people give damn care to PCR vans deployed at every nook and corner,” says Kumar.

Agreeing with Kumar, Former Delhi Police Commissioner Ved Marwah said, “The effectiveness of the Delhi Police will grow with the disciplinary control of the state government. From where will the state government provide resources like communication system, transport, etc, which it needs. The Delhi government neither has a police budget nor a legislative framework within which the police will function.”

“Under the existing system, the Centre gives money to the Delhi Police and its budget is passed by Parliament and therefore, the Home Ministry calls the shots,” he explained. “Delhi is an artificial state and its chief minister does not have control over many other things. It should have a metropolitan police system such as New York, Washington and London,” Marwah added.

Rejecting of the idea of bringing the Delhi Police under the control of the state government, ex-IPS officer Kiran Bedi says, “Today, you are saying the police should be under the state government, tomorrow you will ask to bring it under municipal corporation and then under RWA (residents welfare association). Is it going to serve any purpose?”

“It is not a problem who controls the police. Its performance should be judged. How you anticipate for tomorrow and get prepared for it,” she adds.

“Delhi Police is the best provided police force in the country. It is not at all running short of people. See the condition and strength of the police in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, then you will realise how competent and professional the Delhi Police is in tackling situation,” she argues.

When asked to comment on the BPR&D data which says that only one cop has been deployed for the security of 450 people in the capital, while 20 cops guard one VIP, she asked, “Providing security to VIPs is not policing?”

Disagreeing with Bedi, Marwah said, “Delhi Police has severe shortage of manpower.” Explaining why criminals are not afraid of police these days and several cases of assaults on cops have come to the fore, he said, “The criminal justice system of the country has become dysfunctional. In addition, policemen do not remain as alert as they should be. This apathy must go.”

“Strict supervision, a review of responsibilities, upgrading of policing and optimum utilisation of manpower can improve the law-and-order situation in the city,” he suggested.

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Updated Date: Oct 18, 2014 11:35:57 IST