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Police Professionalism And Crimes Against Women

By R.B.Sreekumar

30 December, 2012

Open Letter To Prime Minister of India

R.B.Sreekumar, I.P.S, (Retd),
Former DGP. Gujarat .

Email: rbsreekumar71@yahoo.com

Respected Sir,

The beastly violence and rape perpetrated on a young student and her friend by a group of brigands in a chartered bus moving in Delhi roads, presumably monitored by police check posts, had evoked widespread condemnation about commitment to the Rule of Law and concern for the life and security of ordinary citizens (Aam Aadmi) by police. The tsunami of public outcry about inefficiency and callousness of police and allergic response of the authorities to public criticism was mostly echoing police riposte on similar earlier occasions. Poor police – public ratio (lower than the position in many underdeveloped countries), over engagement in VIP security duties (in many cases security cover is allegedly kept as a status symbol), resource constraints, fatigue and inadequacy of rest and recuperation for the constabulary performing field duties etc could be causative factors behind sub-standard degree of police performance.

2. Nevertheless, the people at large feel that qualitative aspects like low professionalism, tardy and inordinately delayed response mechanism to distress calls by citizens and low morale of police personnel due to corruption and nepotism practiced at higher level and so on are deemed to be responsible for the un-empathetic attitude of Indian police, in general, and Delhi Police in particular to the agonies of common citizens. Public impression is that except a microscopic minority of policemen in various ranks, others engaged in law enforcement do indulge in corruption in the form of accepting Nazarana (costly gifts), Shukrana (rewards for even legitimate service delivery) and Zabrana (extortion for collusion in illegal activities). Constant display of feudalistic arrogance by and inaccessibility of senior officers, particularly IPS officers, to the needs of commoners aggravated by their pursuit of creature-comfort oriented careerism, by indulging in competitive and anticipatory sycophancy to civil and political bureaucracy, over the years, have engendered an ambience of immunity, deficiency in fear of law and deterrence of law among potential criminals and the decadent elite of Indian society. Ground level law enforcer – the Constables, Sub-Inspectors, Inspectors etc are often not permitted to implement law impartially because the plethora of VIPs in the department and outside would pull him up in case, by chance, he lays his hands on VIP's friends or relatives. So, the police officers take the line of laxity and least resistance in law enforcement, particularly regarding traffic management. The unholy role of police investigators in the well known Jessica Lal and Priyadarshini Mattoo murder cases are illustrative.

3. Those criminals who inflicted gruesome violence on the physiotherapy student were fully aware of the slackness and loopholes in the mechanism of preventive policing on Delhi roads. A self evident maxim of modern criminology predicates that permissivism and laxity practiced by the authorities on enforcement of laws and regulations on traffic management on roads, (implementation of the MV Act and Rules) resulting in commission of overt offences, would enhance the propensity of law breakers to indulge in violent covert crimes. The restriction on use of tinted glasses/ curtains, two wheelers not wearing helmets, use of fancy number plates, unauthorized depiction of designation by many in Govt., Semi-Govt. services and politicians (by ex-MLA, MP, party office bearers), misuse of red beacon lights in vehicles as status symbols (in mature democracies only ambulances and vehicles of disaster management teams are permitted to use such lights on roads) and so on do create a public impression about tolerance of lawlessness, especially among criminals and the influential articulate minority in society. Amazingly, the supervisory officers in executive hierarchy of law enforcement – Deputy Supt. of Police to DGP (Commissioner of Police) who frequently move on roads conveniently avoid taking cognizance of such open dereliction of duty by police and this has certainly strengthened a baggy attitude of ‘chalta hain' among even those who adhere to traffic regulations and other laws while they visit foreign countries.

4. Private vehicles and personal carriers frequently move on Delhi roads with tinted glasses (for ensuring privacy of passengers!!!), and no senior officer, does take notice of it on the spot and book the offenders by using existing laws. Imposition of fines can also be effective if police repeatedly challan the law breakers on daily basis. In fact, the police station officers (law enforcer at cutting edge level) turn a Nelsons' eye to these offenders indulging in petty crimes because bus owners and all in the transport business pay regular ‘haftas' (monthly bribes) to them and allegedly share of it goes to all dishonest higher officers, politicians from ruling parties etc in kind or cash. The tragedy is that even most of the well educated and periodically trained IPS officers succumb to the subculture of corruption prevailing in the department. Often such officers readily go for defending defaulters in the department by refusing to put the built-in self corrective system in operation and thereby exhibit Narcissistic Infallibility Syndrome (NIS). On the other hand, those officers who are keen in taking a line of integrity and go against delinquent subordinates are condemned as class enemies to the system. This must explain the alleged pitiless attitude of the Delhi Police against the protestors at India Gate. The whistle blower IPS officers, who exposed the role of Modi Government in planning and perpetration of anti-minority genocide in 2002, is still ostracized by their colleagues, who are keen to be on good books of the State Government.

5. Many political leaders and senior police officers boast about crime control basing on macro level crime statistics. The multiple causation theory of crime in criminology is not in the lexicon of these protagonists of crime control as they are keen to indulge in self-marketing through claims of containment of crimes. Burking of registration of offences is widely practiced. It is a Herculean task for lady victims of sexual violence to get their FIRs registered in police stations, practically in the whole of India .

6. In this context, I humbly suggest the following measures whose implementation will go a long way to enhance the image, credibility and faith of common man in the police.

•  (i) Ensure free registration of cognizable offences in police stations as mandated under section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC). Emphasis should be laid on immediate recording of FIRs on sex crimes, lest delay will result in destruction of evidence by accused persons. The present malady of police officers cajoling, dissuading and even intimidating complainants of sex crimes from registration of offences can be reduced, if not stopped, if senior police officers remain inaccessible to the complainants whose FIRs (for claiming crime control) are not registered and thereby remain unaccountable. Wide publicity about free registration and right of every citizen to get their complaints registered should be given. The telephone numbers of senior police officers should be displayed prominently in police stations and public places with a declaration that whenever complaints are not registered, the aggrieved party can phone the senior officers. IPS officers who remain unapproachable to common man, (the real sovereigns – We the people – as noted in the Preamble of our Constitution) are exhibiting colonial mindset on the flimsy grounds of privacy and rest. Executive police officers from constables to DGP are on 24 hours duty as crimes do not occur during office hours only.

(ii) All high sounding assurances by MHA and State Chief Ministers to women will remain a mere propaganda if free registration of FIRs is not practiced by police station officers throughout India . Guidelines to police officers regarding their duties relating to sex crimes are delineated by the Apex Court in Vishala vs The State of Rajasthan case. Moreover, most of the State Police Manuals elaborate on the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to be followed by investigators of sex crimes.

(iii) The annual extravaganza of DGP Conference addressed by the Prime Minister, so far, did not do anything purposeful to get free registration of cognizable offences, commanded under section 154 CRPC, as per the verbatim representation by the complainant.

b) (i) The patriarchal attitude of vast majority of police officers towards women and particularly on gender violence and their hostile demeanor and response to the complaints is largely responsible for poor image of police vis-à-vis sex crimes. Pseudo-spiritual heritage of practicing religions, like, worship of a mythical character who committed matricide – Parashurama – on orders of his father by Hindus, restrictions to induct women in priestly order by Hinduism and Semitic religions, by treating women's biology as impure, unjust laws of marriage, divorce, inheritance etc are deemed to be responsible for genesis of patriarchy in India. The burning of widows (sati – note the glorification of sati by Urmila, w/o of Lakshmana in Ramayana and Queen Madri w/o King Pandu in Mahabharata), perhaps a male contrivance to avoid looking after them after death of their husbands, was stopped by the British in 1830s only. Many public figures and a few senior police officers often treat women as second rate citizens and blame their provocative costume, body language, free movement during night, public display of romance with their male companions, visiting pubs and bars and so on as factors responsible for provoking violence by male against them. This posture is against the concept of the Rule of Law and betrays an obscurantist regressive attitude.

(ii) As per law, the character and antecedents of sex crime victims are not relevant for justification of non-registration of their FIRs. Betrand Russel, in his book “Marriage and Morals”, observed that misogynous attitude of many men is germinated by sexual jealousy towards women having a nice time with other males and sexual fatigue particularly in the case of those having inadequate hormone production.

•  Many habitual criminals accused of sex crimes are victims of “mal-imprinting of perverted sexual orientation” – as theorized by psychologist Desmond Morris in his book “Intimate Relations”. So all such offenders should be given psychiatric treatment like the one undergone by international golf champion Tiger Woods, during the judicial custody of the accused, before the final disposal of the case itself.

•  Chemical castration of hardened sex crime offenders should also be statutorily sanctioned and this measure will be purposeful than imposition of capital punishment on rapists.

•  A lot of hue and cry is made about shortage of manpower in police. Just by abolishing the orderly system – deploying trained constables who are empowered by nearly forty statutes to arrest Citizens -, thousands of policemen can be brought on effective police duties, adding to the human resources. Amazingly even IPS officers, drawn from underprivileged families are reluctant to give up the privilege of orderlies and other feudal benefits, that are a British legacy. In place of orderlies from police the individual officers can employ their private servants and the government can provide special allowance for this purpose.

7. Lastly, India's political elite, drawn from all political parties – there is no party in India who did not get a chance to enjoy power in the State of Central Government – should become agile to the ills of police and in the other segments of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) and implement the recommendations of the Apex Court in Prakash Singh case, Group of Ministers suggestions and proposals in Rebiero and Padmanabiah Committee reports. The long pending judicial reforms and suggestions of the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) should also be introduced immediately. The present abominable situation of ruling parties in the states using police as their private militia (the unholy role of facilitator of riots and enabler to rioters played by police in the anti-minority carnage in Gujarat in 2002 is illustrative), particularly through a mafia group in police, who enjoys extra hierarchical accessibility to and confidence of top political bureaucracy could be ended only with the implementation of suggested police reforms.

8. In Mahabharata, Bhishma Pitamaha defined ideal public order as one in which a young lady bedecked with gold ornaments, unaccompanied by a male companion, could move in the streets with no fear or tension. Is their any hope of those in political bureaucracy, the civil administration (IAS officers) and top police brass (IPS officers), willingly giving up feudalistic privileges, practice of nepotism and corruption by undergoing a metamorphosis so that India will become a modern democratic society. Let us wait and experience.

9. The ancient wisdom from Sanskrit language declared that " Yatra naryastu pujyante ramante tatra Devata, yatraitaastu na pujyante sarvaastatrafalaah kriyaah " which translated reads: "whenever women are given their due respect, even the deities like to reside there and where they are not respected, all action remains unfruitful."

We are yet to become eligible for blessings of Gods.

Yours sincerely

R. B. Sreekumar
Camp Noida (UP)


Dr. Manmohan Singh,
Prime Minister of India
Room No. 148 B
South Block, New Delhi - 110001

Copy with compliments to:

Justice Verma Committee, New Delhi




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