Dr. Kiran Bedi
Former Director General Bureau of Police Research and Development
The Government of India is still following the Police Act of 1861, which needs to be changed, based on the present situation. As prevention of terrorism is a need in the country, especially because the economy is being affected, and hence the survival of the ruling parties, several mechanisms have been put in place. As a result, now we have a better infrastructure to fight against terrorism. However, at present Police reforms is not an issue of survival for the ruling parties, hence nothing major is being done towards it.
How do you see the state of public safety and security in the country ?
The state of police reforms is evident from “feet on ground”- of the Police forces. More than four lakh vacancies are there at present in the system, the aim should be to cover the existing vacancies and then increase the strength. As per the UN standards, the proportion of Policing is 222 policemen per one lakh people, where as at present, the proportion is 120-130 policemen per one lakh people. Moreover, the major question which arises is how many of them are actually serving the common man, and are into day to day policing. Its ironical to notice that a big diversion [of Police forces] can be seen in the very important persons (VIPs) security, instead of serving the common man.
The safety of the citizens comes from law and order and threat [from terrorism and other sorts of violence] management. It is important to tackle the issues of terrorism, law and order and communal riots. It is seen that 80% to 90% of the policing impacts the common man. When the police aims to address these issues, public safety and security for the common man is ensured. Due to 26/11 in 2008, the public safety in 2009 was achieved completely.
Can you tell us about the current state of police reforms in the country?
In terms of current state of reforms, an improvement in the overall infrastructure can be seen. One is able to transmit the information faster and also the analysis can be done at a faster rate. This can be seen as the beginning of a long process of institutionalisation of the Police department. Today, the day to day policing is not impacting the common man. The police officers, though have the authority, but are still not independent to take decisions on their own. They still depend upon the prior approvals.
Though, in terms of the infrastructure our system has become stronger, but in terms of the assurance and the trust building from the citizens is still missing, which makes the whole system weak.
Police reforms in the country can be brought in by implementation of the seven points directives issued by the Supreme Court in December 2006. However, not even a single state has implemented its directives. The apex court has itself gone slow in taking cognizance of these matters.
There has been no kind of institutional approach from the Government of India towards the Police department and insulating it from political interference. Additionally, for reforms, constant training and capacity building is very important. At present, more than 80% of the Police budget goes into the salaries of the staff and hardly anything is left for the capacity building of the forces.
The reforms of the department had to start from the base. The real reform would be to modernise the million plus Police force not only in the metros but also in the rural parts of the country. Unless the Police officer is made non partisan, the Police department cannot under go any kind of reform.
The state governments should take the call for the Police reforms in their respective states.
At present, the Central and the state government put only those mechanisms into place by which they are impacted. What impacts the government is worked upon. What impacts the common man, like day to day policing, is not at all addressed. The Government of India is still following the Police Act of 1861, which needs to be changed, based on the present scenario. As prevention of terrorism is a need in the country, especially because the economy is being affected, and hence the survival of the ruling parties, mechanism has been put in place. As a result, now we have a better infrastructure to fight against terrorism. However, at present Police reforms is not an issue of survival of the ruling parties, hence nothing major is being done towards it.
How do you see the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Policing?
ICT has tremendous role to play in the modernisation of the Police as technology has no boundaries and cuts across all the barriers. Seamless technology is what is needed for integrated and transparent policing. Although the process has begun still it is a long way to go. e-Complaint has still not been networked, the process has still not begun at an all India basis. It is important that the whole crime mapping comes online as it will be easy to locate what is happening in a particular area. The strategy of the Police will change accordingly when most of the things will be visible online and subsequently things will be transparent. It will also help in the speedy decision making.
For the online registration of the complaints, there needs to be one repository to manage the common complaints and the software should be such which should direct the complaints to the concerned Police stations and the departments. The software should be linked to the local/area Police stations so that the immediate crime could be reported. The online registration of the case will also help in the authentication of the records, which at the moment is not possible as the results are tampered with. The Police officer will have no choice to suppress the crime. ICT can also help in engaging the entire Police force of the country with the help of Video Conferencing. It will make the things faster.
People of the country have to be hungry for the reforms, then only the change in the system can take place. The IT companies can be involved for the updation and implementation of technology . The Police should have the zest to reach out to the common in the remotest part of the country, then only the system can be changed.
Please tell us about the key objectives of ‘India Vision Foundation’, especially, the ‘saferindia.com’ initiative and the landmarks covered so far.
Safer India, is an initiative where a common man is free to register his complaints from any part of the world. Once the complaint is registered by the citizen on the website of the Safer India, the team forwards it to the concerned department for further action. Safer India works as a medium between the common man and the government and expedites the process of delivery of justice.
Through Safer India it is ensured that the complaint which is registered is addressed and forwarded to the concerned department within 24 hours. Once the complaint is forwarded, the responded gets the acknowledgement of his complaint. In general, in lodging a complaint the Police has a very indifferent attitude towards the citizens and for minor crimes they don’t even bother to lodge a complaint. Safer India, being a platform where the citizen is free to register any kind of complaint, helps him or her to reach the concerned government official without any hassle.
Supreme Court Directives on Police Reforms issued in December, 2006