For the first time in India, ordinary Mumbaikars can now lodge any type of police complaints safely and confidentially through ‘complaint drop boxes’ to be installed at all public places. “Around 1,000 such ‘drop boxes’ shall be installed at all railway stations, bus depots, major bus stations, hospitals, educational institutions, places of worship, and even ATMs and multiplexes,” a home ministry official told IANS.
Home Minister R.R. Patil inaugurated the ‘drop box’ scheme in Mumbai Thursday, considered a brainchild of Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Branch) Sanjay Shintre. “Anybody can lodge any type of complaint, against any person, or for any issues, handwritten on ordinary paper and simply drop them in the boxes. The complainant has the option to reveal or conceal his/her identity. We shall open the boxes daily and process them,” Shintre told IANS.
Even complaints by poor and illiterate persons, who may drop their complaints in broken words or sentences shall be treated with equal seriousness, Shintre assured. Patil said the top officials would examine the merits of each complaint and wherever required lodge first information reports (FIRs), keeping the identity of the complainants confidential.
The government would also reward complainants giving valuable information or tips of any type of shady activities, through a special fund. The home minister expressed hope that a lot of significant tips and information would reach the police through the ‘drop boxes’ to help policing and maintain law and order in the city. He assured that gradually, this would be implemented in all big cities and across Maharashtra.
Mumbai’s Guardian Minister Jayant Patil lauded the police efforts in making the “police administration more people-friendly, transparent and virtually going to the doorstep of the masses.” Patil also urged Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh to introduce complaints online – via email or through the police website – to enable citizens highlight their grievances without much trouble.
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik had installed a ‘Complaint Drop Box’ at his office in south Mumbai. However, now it will be removed as it was inconvenient for most citizens to travel far to lodge their complaints.Shintre said that the keys of the ‘drop boxes’ would be with the Special Branch, independent of the local police, to ensure that proper and impartial action is initiated on each complaint, even if they are against police department or police officials. “Many people, especially women, children and senior citizens are apprehensive of approaching police stations due to various reasons. The ‘drop boxes’ will help them reach out to us directly and get redressal of their problems,” Shintre assured.