DPCA in doldrums, Police atrocities unchecked

India on 12 August 2013
Location : India | Source : The New Indian Express.

In a blatant violation of the spirit of the Supreme Court directions and recommendations made in the Model Police Act drafted by the Soli Sorabjee Committee, the Ernakulam District Police Complaint Authority has not held a single sitting after  December. As a result, several complaints on human rights violations against serving police officers are lying in the cold storage. After  Chairman of the District Authority Justice T K Wilson’s retirement in December, the Authority remained headless till May. The government which took a long leave in filling the crucial post has finally appointed Justice K C George as the new Chairman. But he is yet to organise a sitting.

The Police Complaints Authorities (PCA) in the country was started after the historic judgment by the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh case in 2006. The court, observing the perennial lack of accountability and accumulating complaints on human rights violations and other atrocities committed by police officers, passed seven directives to initiate a structural reform in the Police. The immediate establishment of the State Police Complaint Authority (SPCA) and District Police Complaint Authority (DPCA) was a major directive to the governments. The directive aimed at ensuring justice to the individuals or groups harassed by the uniformed service, who enjoy tremendous social power in a developing country like India. According to the directive, if the complaints are against the officers in the rank of superintendent of police and above, the SPCA will look into it and all complaints against officers from and below the rank of the deputy superintendent of police will be handled by DPCA. The DPCA can enquire on allegations against officers including ‘serious misconduct’ (causing death, rape in custody, grievous hurt) and other allegations like ‘extortion, land/house grabbing, or any incident involving serious abuse of authority’.

The recommendations made by the DPCA having powers of a civil court are binding on the government. Human Rights activist A Jayashanker said that it is very crucial to have a vibrant DPCA.

“A large number of the atrocities are happening at the district-level. In most cases, the victims in the villages and small towns lack enough social capital to fight the injustice and humiliation. If the committee organises sufficient hearings, it will result in positive changes,” he said.

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