Selective Catch: The Politics of Policing in India
It’s not unusual for a young lad to take law into his own hands, thus ending up in a police station. “Chacha Vidhayak hain,” he says, to show his political influence and to deter the Station House Officer (SHO), a.k.a the Thanedaar, from performing his duty.
It is an open secret that Political affiliations play a large role in departmental inquiries and punishment proceedings of officials. People openly approach the MLA or a politician, especially from the ruling party, to get transfers or postings. According to the locals of numerous constituencies in Punjab, if an officer doesn’t bend according to the politician’s whims and fancies the latter ensures that he is sent to an inconvenient place or position.
But if you get transferred on the recommendation of a politician, you will end up obeying him till the end of your term. Several times, the orders from senior officers and the orders from the politician can be entirely different. This hinders the officer’s ability to judge and make decisions for the welfare of your area.
The Supreme Court judgment in the Prakash Singh v/s Union of India case, was a big milestone in this regard but even that has failed to make an impact on politicians eager to rub their noses into the police administration. The judgment, which was based on the principle of separation of powers envisioned in the Constitution, clearly states that all decisions on transfer of officers and personnel should be devoid of political interference. The court’s directive has been followed only on paper as RTI data has shown that high level politicians have rejected the recommendations in numerous officer’s transfer cases.
The same RTI data further suggests that the CM transferred 47 IPS officers between January 1, 2016 and August 31, 2017, without the PEB recommendation. Due to such circumstances officers tend to be as politicized as professional politicians. There does not remain much of a difference between the two neither in the way the two would function.
Even the district boards headed by senior officers of Police of various ranges are not free from political interference. A meeting of the board happens just before general transfers every year. The only thing that is discussed in these meetings is which leader is recommending whom and whose recommendation letters are to be taken seriously. The merit of officials or their suitability for particular posts is seldom discussed’’.
Sometimes officers approach the PEB for revising their recommended posting. This is accepted in cases where the reasons are found to be valid,” a home department official said. In Bathinda for example, aspirants to the posts of around 80 jobs have brought recommendations from numerous leaders during major transfer and off season post transfers. This has been the trend since long and there are only a few who differ and apply solely on their merits. Even few are the ones brave enough and with the mettle to stand against the tide and oppose it their own big and small ways.
Views expressed are personal.
About the Author
Abhay Singh Dhillon is one of the youngest politicians in India and the District General Secretary of the Youth Akali Dal. A highly decorated student of Welham’s School for Boys, Dehradun, Abhay is a multi faceted personality. He possesses extraordinary oratory capabilities and has also addressed a large number of rallies in Punjab. Abhay was recently recognised by the IAYP (International Award for Young People), a thriving youth program which discerns the various hurdles, snags faced by youngsters and professionals.