Siddaramaiah follows UPA lead: Plans to control Karnataka police

Even as the UPA government is under fire for misusing the CBI, the newly formed Karnataka government is intent on imitating its disastrous example.

FP Staff June 11, 2013 14:49:36 IST
Siddaramaiah follows UPA lead: Plans to control Karnataka police

Monkey see, monkey do. Even as the UPA government is under fire for using the Central Bureau of Investigation toward political ends, the newly formed Congress government in Karnataka is intent on imitating its disastrous example. Newly passed amendments to the Karnataka Police Act in the Vidhan Soudha allow the government to decide police postings and transfers of senior police officers including and above the rank of Superitendent of Police.

An unnamed senior bureaucrat tells Bangalore Mirror:

The existing Act had become a pain in the neck for governments which want complete control over the IPS cadre. So, the new government got into the act. In a meeting, chaired by home minister K J George and law minister T B Jayachandra and attended by officials of their respective departments on Friday, it was decided to amend the existing Act and take control of police postings.

Siddaramaiah follows UPA lead Plans to control Karnataka police

Siddaramaiah. AFP.

The policy shift grossly undermines the independence of the Karnataka police and violates the Supreme Court 2006 guidelines which require all postings and transfers be made through the Police Establishment Board. The supposedly independent board is constituted of the Director General of Police and 4 of the seniormost police officers: DG (Home Guards), DG (CID), DG (Police Housing Corporation) and ADGP (Administration).

Worse, the Siddaramaiah government planning to wrest control of not just the authority of the PEB but also the board itself:

The political powers-that-be also want to take control of the PEB, having brought in an amendment that the PEB will comprise the state police chief and any  three senior IPS officers (not senior-most) of the rank of ADGP and above. By doing so, it can manipulate the constitution of PEB by posting pliable senior officers as members. Through them, the ruling class can have control on the postings of the lower rank as well. The existing Act says only three senior-most officers should be the members of PEB.

The amendments will inevitably be challenged in the higher courts which are likely to nix the open power grab -- as they have done in the past with the previous BJP government. But the amended Act is also -- in a sense -- a mere formality, a legalisation of the informal khadi-khaki nexus that rules the police force.

Policemen rely on the patronage of powerful politicians, who in turn ensure they are posted to strategic positions. For instance, after the election of BS Yeddyurappa, the Reddy brothers were allowed to handpick the police officers posted to Bellary. For all its vaunted independence, the Karnataka PEB has mostly rubber-stamped the decisions of the ruling party:

Though the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act-2012 specifies that only the PEB headed by DG&IG is empowered to decide on the postings of DySPs/ACPs and its below rank, technically, the government intervenes and sets agenda for the PEB and fixes date for the meeting. It is seldom the PEB exercises its power. Recommendation of legislators and home minister are normally approved in the PEB meeting, sources said

"I call this a 'transfer industry'. It's a complex problem, which cannot be discussed superficially. The evil of political interference, which began more than 30 years ago due to political instability, has continued. Unless there is a stable and single-party government, it cannot be solved,'' a former DGP tells Times of India. Unfortunately, as Siddaramaiah proves, a stable and single party government has no interest in changing the status quo -- no more than the unwieldy coalition of unreliable allies at the Centre.

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