On the eve of Maharashtra polls on October 15, Delhi-based advocacy group Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and Police Reforms Watch (PRW), Mumbai, an umbrella of voluntary groups and activists of Maharashtra, will start an 18-days campaign to catalyze voters in Maharashtra, and especially in Mumbai, to vote for a representative and a party that commits to and is vested in better policing in the state. The campaign will begin on September 26. As part of the campaign the NGOs propose to put up a 10 seconds slide in 56 cinema halls of Mumbai; disseminate radio messages through FM channels Radio City (91.1) , Radio Fever (104) and Big FM-92.7; and carry out an intensive drive through the social media on police reforms. The website, giving details of the campaign, www.policereformswatch.org will go live on September 27, 2014. Text of the 10-point agenda the two NGOs have forwarded the following text to major political parties listing their demands for police reforms:
1. Upgrade all police stations so that adequate facilities are available for the public, staff, records, accused, investigators and are standardized as far as possible
- Women Help Desks: All police stations must have a Women and Child Protection Desk, staffed as far as possible by women police personnel to record complaints of crimes against women and children.
- Women Police: Have adequate numbers of women in all police stations to fulfill duties under the laws relating to women and children.
- Raise the manpower strength of every police station in proportion to the crime and population of that area. The deployment should be annually reviewed. Official data of January 2013 tells us that there is a shortfall of nearly 14,000 police personnel in Maharashtra.
2. Improve the Police Response to Crimes Against Women, and immediately comply with
- Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) advisories and Standing Orders on Crimes Against Women; and
- Accountability provisions effected through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.
- Develop and make public specific operational protocols on the police response to, and investigation of, crimes against women, namely rape, domestic violence, molestation and sexual harassment, if not drafted already.
- Conduct specialised training on crimes against women for Investigating Officers.
3. Separate Investigation from the Law and Order functions
- Most police personnel are generally involved in VIP or bandobast duties which delays investigation of cases. There is need for a separate and specialised pool of investigators.
4. Policing Plans Must be made at the Police station/District and at the State level
- Ensuring that every police station has a clear action plan in relation to improving safety and security of the area. This plan must be made in consultation with the local community at large through regular, well-publicised public meetings.
- Additionally ensuring that policing plans (both annual and short-term) are made at the district and state levels. These shall be formulated in consultation with the local population through regular, well-publicised public meetings.
5. Addressing the Needs of the Constabulary
- Adopting an eight hour duty norm in the civil police.
6. End the Misuse of Police Personnel for Non-Policing Work
- Abolish the use of police personnel as orderlies for any domestic or private personal purpose (cooks, drivers, attendants, etc) by police officers of all ranks (Recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, 169th report).
- Abolish the use of police personnel as personal security guards (Recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, 169th report).
7. Appraise the Performance of the Police
- Ensure the Maharashtra State Security Commission measures police performance at the State level regularly and openly after devising objective indicators, such as service delivery, response time, registration of complaints, and other similar indicators which should be both quantitative and qualitative. This will put an end to the present method of measuring police performance through the number of crimes registered and cases ‘solved’.
- Recruitment drives should be conducted in favourable weather to avoid illness, and at worst deaths, during physical tests.
- Adopt a transparent recruitment process, which involves independent police recruitment boards with transparent procedures.
- Prioritise the recruitment of women, minorities and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to increase the diversity in the police service. Among states, Maharashtra has the highest number of women police, yet it is still to fulfil the Centre’s directive of 33% reservation of women in the police. Police personnel from Scheduled Castes represent only 11.09 % of the police, when the reservation is 13%. Likewise OBCs constitute only 11.16%when the actual reservation is 19%. Since there is no data available on the percentage of minorities, we urge the parties to make the representation of minorities in the police a priority issue.
- Set aside a specified percentage of the police budget for training of police personnel. In 2012-13, the total police expenditure in Maharashtra was 4974.44 crores, of that, 50.29 crores was spent on training which is basically 1.011 % of the entire police budget,
9. Prohibit Ill-Treatment and Custodial Torture
- Ensure swift registration of FIRs on all complaints of torture.
- Entrust investigation of such cases to either the CID or an Investigating Officer from another district.
- Ensure that all such investigations are supervised by a Superintendent of Police-rank officer.
- Compel the police to follow the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) guideline to report any custodial death or rape within 24-hours of occurrence to the NHRC. In custodial death cases, post-mortems must be video-graphed and the Case Diary sent to the NHRC.
10. Repeal Maharashtra Police (Amendment and Continuance) Act, 2014, and call for public consultation for drarting a new police law for Maharashtra
- Repeal Maharashtra Police (Amendment and Continuance) Act 2014 as it dilutes and circumvents the Supreme Court Order on police reforms
- Maharashtra Police Second Amendment Act 2014 was passed without much debate and discussion when the house was not full.
- Commit to drafting a New Police Act for the State that incorporate element of good policing with active consultations with people from all walks of life from all over the state.