Finally, an authority for complaints against cops

India on 17 July 2013
Location : Mumbai, India | Source : Times of India

MUMBAI: The state on Monday announced the setting up of a police complaints authority to register people's complaints against police officers for misconduct and recommend action against them.

The announcement came just a day before the case on police reforms comes up for hearing in the Supreme Court. The SC had, as far back as in Sept 2006, directed all states to implement the National Police Commission's (NPC) report on making the police accountable by framing new acts and setting up accountability agencies.

The authority, whose recommendations will be binding on the government (though not in "exceptional" cases), will look into complaints such as death in custody, grievous hurt, rape or attempt to rape, arrest or detention without due process of law, allegations of corruption, extortion, land/house grab and any incident involving serious abuse of authority.

A bill giving the new authority legal sanctity will soon be brought in the legislature.

Two panels will be formed: one at the state and the other at district level. The State Police Complaints Authority will be set up in Mumbai, while the one for districts will be set up in every district.

The authority at the state level will be headed by a retired high court judge and have four other members including a senior police officer not below the rank of inspector general of police and a civil society member appointed by the state human rights commission or the state Upa-Lokayukta.

The state-level authority will take complaints against officers above the rank of deputy superintendent of police.

The district-level authority will take complaints against cops from the constable level to that of deputy superintendent of police. It will be headed by a retired district judge and will include an officer not below the rank of superintendent of police, apart from three other members.

The authority can inquire into allegations either suo motu or on a complaint received from a victim or his/her family members or from the National/State Human Rights Commission or the police, said officials. It can summon cops and call for case documents. And, on completion of probe, it can make recommendations on departmental action to be taken or other suggestions to the government.

"This (authority) will empower the common man and the family of a victim to seek justice," a state official said. "The state authority's chairperson will be chosen by the state from a panel of names proposed by the Chief Justice of Bombay HC," said an official.

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