Police complaints authority to probe custody deaths: Maharashtra

India on 24 July 2014
Location : Mumbai, India | Source : Times of India.

A state police complaints authority, to be headed by a retired high court judge, will be established to probe custodial deaths and other grievances against cops, the Maharashtra government told the Bombay high court on Tuesday. A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice P D Kode asked the state if it was planning to set up an interim committee till the authority is finalized. The court also asked whether cases in which no FIRs were filed would go before the authority.

Additional public prosecutor Poornima Kantharia informed the court that the state had made changes to the Maharashtra Police Act and the setting up of the authority would take some time. "The list of retired high court judges would have to be drawn up and their consents taken. This will take some time," said Kantharia.

The complaints authority will also comprise an officer of the rank of additional DGP as its member secretary and three other members, including a retired police officer of the rank of special IG, a retired state secretary and "a person of eminence from the civil society".

The authority will have powers to inquire suo moto or on a complaint against police officers filed by a victim or his family member, national or state human rights commission or the police. The authority will probe complaints against police officers that include custodial death, grievous hurt, rape or attempt to commit rape, illegally arresting or detaining a person, corruption allegation, extortion and land grabbing. The authority will have judicial powers. The state can accept and initiate action and may reject a report only in exceptional cases but will have to give reasons for it.

The state said that it would also set up a divisional level police complaints authority, which will be headed by a retired principal district judge. The law also says that those making frivolous complaints against police officers can be punished with a jail term of between two and seven years.

The court will hear the matter on Tuesday.

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