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Police watchdog authority grows a head, but no teeth

India on 23 October 2013
Location : Bangalore, India | Source : CitizenMatters.in Image Source: CitizenMatters.in

The Police Complaint Authority (PCA) that existed only on papers for the past three years has now finally been formed. However, it doesn’t have punitive powers - it can only recommend action after an inquiry.

The State Police Complaint Authority has started functioning in Karnataka from September 2, 2013.Retired high court judge Justice M P Chinnappa has been appointed as the chairman of the state Police Complaint Authority. The members are retired additional chief secretary Abhay Prakash, IGP- Grievances Alok Kumar and IGP- KSRP Malini Krishnamurthy.

So technically you can complain to this agency if you face any sort of harassment from police officials.

The office of the state PCA is located at Police Headquarter Building, 2nd Floor, DG&IG Office Building, 2nd floor, Nrupatunga Road, Bangalore. The contact numbers are 22386063 and 22034650.

One PCA  for the entire state

PCA chairman, justice M P Chinappa told Citizen Matters that the authority came into existence in July 2013, after the government passed the orders. He was appointed on September 2, 2013.

The state government has proposed to form four regional offices, under which 6-7 districts will be covered. The head of each regional office will be the Regional Commissioner of the Revenue Department. The SP will be the ex-officio member and two members from the government will also be appointed.

The PCA offices will be of two types- state and district. All complaints against SP, DG, IGP will come to the state PCA (head office- Bangalore). All complaints referred from the district PCA will also come to the state PCA. Complaints against officials below the SP will be referred to the regional office.

The PCA has received 14 complaints against the police in Bangalore, since September, which include citizen assaulted, atrocity, usage of filthy language and not filing complaints. Complaints against the police officials and department can be reported to PCA.

Justice Chinnappa adds that since so far no other office has been formed in Karnataka all complaints are being reported to the Bangalore office.

Not fully functional, no powers

However, so far the PCA has not held any inquiry against the police, based on the complaints. The reason: lack of infrastructure and staff strength. Chinnappa points that there are only three people working presently. The government is yet to appoint staff to the PCA. These three are outsourced staff. Appointment letter from the government has not been given to them so far.

The PCA has no power to fine or suspend guilty police personnel. Justice Chinnappa adds that the authority doesn’t have the powers to take action against the erring police official. The PCA will present the report to the government and recommend the action to be taken. The orders are to be issued by the government.

A member from civil society is also to be appointed to the PCA, which isn’t done so far.

PCA only on paper for three years

The Supreme Court had passed an order in 2006 and had directed all states to set up Police Complaint Authorities. However whether it was formed in Karnataka was not known to anyone.

In November 11, 2012, Bengaluru branch of civil society group India Against Corruption (IAC) had submitted a petition to the city Police Commissioner's office, demanding setting up of a PCA. The then-Additional Commissioner of Police Suneel Kumar, who had accepted the petition, had said that PCA had not yet been formed.

Later a query by Citizen Matters found out that the Police Complaint Authority indeed exists  - but in half-formed state. The then-secretary of the Home Department Raghavendra Auradkar had confirmed that in December 2010, the state government passed an order (GO) sanctioning the formation of Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at the state and district levels.

In 2010, the government of Karnataka took steps to form the Police Complaint Authority. A government order issued in December 2010 stated that Chairman of the state PCA was the  retired HC Justice R J Babu, but the other members were not selected. For some reason, this wasn’t taken seriously by anyone in the government.

Thus the PCA remained half-formed for nearly two years. Then in 2012, Karnataka government issued a notification in August 8, 2012, where the Karnataka Police Act, 1963 was amended to Karnataka Police (amendment) Act, 2012. Under Section 20C and 20D, the Karnataka government was to constitute the State Police Complaints Authority and the District Police Complaints Authorities.

The order, a copy of which is with Citizen Matters, says that the state PCA should have -

A retired judge of the High Court as the chairman

A retired civil service officer not below the rank of Principal secretary to government as member

A person from the civil society as member

A woman IPS officer not below the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police as member

An Additional Director General of Police (grievance) nominated by the state government as ex-officio member and member secretary.

The district PCA should have a Regional Commissioner of the Region as the Chairman, Retired civil service officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary to Government and a person from the civil society as members, and the Superintendent of Police in-charge of the district as ex-officio member and member Secretary.

What is the job of state PCA?

It will look into complaints against officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above, including Additional SP, and take into cognizance of the allegations of serious misconduct by the police officers which would include incidents involving death, grievous hurt or rape in police custody.

It has the power to inquire into the allegations of serious misconduct against the police officers, after providing an opportunity of being heard to the alleged police officer either suo moto or on a complaint received from any of the following:

- a victim or person on his behalf

- National or state human rights commission

- police

- any other source.

District Police Complaint Authority looks into complaints against police officials below the rank of Superintendent of Police.

How does PCA handle a case?

1. Noting the complaint sent either through post or filed personally

2. Going through in detail and deciding where the matter has to be referred to the SP, DG, IG, secretary, chief minister or anybody else.

3. Sending it to the concerned department for inquiry

4. Getting the report back from the department and verifying it.

5. Looking into the prima facie case.

6. Having an inquiry with both the parties (complainant and accused).

7. Taking a decision and sending the recommended action to the government.

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