Year 2012 did not bring the end of the world as predicted by the Mayan Calender. But incidents in Delhi following the brutal rape and assault on a girl and the subsequent developments indicate that the end of the world is in fact near at least for the rule of law in India.
While on the one hand peaceful agitations were being carried on by students to ensure that culprits are brought to book, the incident highlighted that the offence was facilitated by the “Hafta” culture in Police which allowed illegal transport operations with impunity.
The incident brought out the serious problems that exist in law enforcement structure in Delhi where the CM has no authority and the Union Home Minister controls the State policing through the LG and the Commissioner.
The incident got complicated with the death of the Constable Mr Tomar and the manner in which the death was used to malign political opponents. While the TV visuals and eye witnesses gave credence to the claim that the Constable had died of a heart attack, the death was registered as a “Murder” and action initiated on some select people whose guilt was their participation in the agitation.
The unusually grand funeral thrown by the Police, the immediate announcement of unprecedented ex-gratia and other benefits all indicated that there was something unnatural and fishy. As it happens in films and TV serials, there is now a post-mortem report confirming the police version about the cause of death. This along with a report on undue pressure brought on the Sub Divisional Manager taking statement of the victim has raised doubts about the credibility and integrity of the Police.
In my opinion the biggest tragedy in the whole incident is the fall of credibility of the Police system in India. The Police are the backbone of the society in the context of maintenance of a law-abiding society and contain many honest and professionally competent persons. However what has come to the fore today is the dishonest, power-hungry, politically biased and subservient face of the Police. This is a big threat to our democracy.
If this situation is not corrected, India has no future as a democratic country.
While there may be one or more judicial commissions set up for quick disposal of the rape case, unless the “Root Cause” of the crime which is the “Corruption on Police Force” is not identified and addressed, there will be no improvement of the situation.
If without addressing the issue of “Misuse of Law by Police” we try to simply strengthen the rape law with more stringent punishment or shifting of the onus of proof on the accused etc., it will only result in further deterioration of the law and order situation in the country with more and more innocent persons being targeted by the Police while the influential continue to get away by paying Haftas.
Filing of criminal cases against General V.K.Singh and Baba Ramdev are clear indications that the Police can be dishonest to the core under political influence. Hence it is not possible to trust the Police any more simply for their professionalism.
We need adequate safeguards in law to protect the citizen from the Police as much as we need the Police for protection against the criminals.
Every law should therefore have a stringent provision on punishing the Police for the misuse of law. Punishment for the misuse should be at least 200% of the maximum punishment under which an innocent person was booked by dishonest police. Obviously such a clause can be invoked only when the malicious intention is proved beyond reasonable doubt so that no honest policeman need fear of being unfairly treated. The investigating agency for such complaints against the police has to be independent and suitably empowered.
Can the CVC take up this responsibility? or should there be a similar agency created? are some details to be discussed.
Perhaps Justice Verma commission should throw up suggestions in this regard also.
For a person who has many friends in the Police circles and work closely with many of them at personal level, the recent incidents have been depressing.
I trust my friends in Police system will view my criticisms in the context of what has happened in recent days in Delhi. If this remains an isolated incident and does not happen elsewhere, I will be the happiest person.
Disclaimer: Comments contained herein are based on the information published in the media regarding the Delhi rape case. The objective is to highlight a prima-facie malaise in the system and no individual is targeted.