Stonewalling is the strategy

Updated: Jan 22 2007, 05:30am hrs
Maharashtra, which has strenuously opposed the Supreme Court order on police reforms, will soon file a review petition with the apex court. The Congress-led government in the state has already filed two affidavits stating that the apex court order could not be implemented in its present form on account of the legal and practical difficulties.

The state government questions how it could be held responsible for maintaining law and order but have no control over the police administration. A state government source told FE, The apex court directives will lead to a police raj, which is unacceptable to the state government. The apex court can give directives when there is a legislative vacuum but certainly not when a law exists.

The state is particularly concerned about constituting a state security commission without including either the chief minister or home minister, yet with the leader of the opposition as a member. Three models for the state security commission have been suggested. In two models, the chief minister is not included, while in another model there is no involvement of the home minister. Ironically, in all three models, the leader of opposition will be a member. This is unacceptable to the state, added the source.

The state government, in its affidavit, argued that it would be inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution to make the police machinery independent and directly accountable to the people through the state security commission. Sources said that the state was, in fact, considering the formation of a state security commission or council as an advisory body whose recommendations would not be binding on the state.

The state government questions how it could be held responsible for maintaining law and order but have no control over the police administration

The government has argued that it spearheaded the enactment of a special law that ensures a fixed, three-year tenure for government officers and police personnel.

However, the government is opposed to a proposal where the retirement age of the state director general of police (DGP) be relaxed and the tenure made two years. A state government source pointed out that when the law states that a DGP should retire at 60, "how can the state relax the age of superannuation This will not only lead to bickering and frustration within the police force, but also hamper the promotion of other deserving officials. The state is in favour of a fixed tenure for DGPs, but it should be done without relaxing the age of superanuation."

As far as the formation of a state police complaint authority is concerned, the Maharashtra government has taken the view that there are already some 17 statutory bodies, including the National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commission, State Commission for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes, Lok Ayukta and the State Women Commission, to file complaints against the police.

On the formation of a separate board for the appointment and transfer of police personnel, the government is opposed to it.

"How can a board comprising four officers decide transfers and promotions, keeping the government in the dark This is not at all acceptable to the state," the source noted.