What ails our police: Graft, custodial deaths, orderly system

A serving IPS officer recently went public with allegations that posts of Superintendent of Police in some UP cities were for ‘sale’ for huge sums of money

What ails our police: Graft, custodial deaths, orderly system
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Rahul Gul

While the police are widely perceived to be corrupt, it’s not often that a serving IPS officer goes public with a letter which acknowledges the malaise and how deep it runs. That’s why the leak of a ‘sensitive’ report filed by NOIDA Senior Superintendent of Police caused a flutter recently. The officer, Vaibhav Krishna, alleged that he was being maligned and linked to a morphed sex-chat video because he had exposed a nexus between corrupt IPS officers, journalists and builders.

He named five IPS officers, including his predecessor and the police chief of a nearby district. Two of the five officers are SSPs (senior superintendents of police) while three are SPs.

Others named in the report, which Krishna claimed to have sent to the state government three times last year, are an ASP-rank officer, a PCS officer, four inspectors, a sub-inspector and three constables.

In his letter to the Uttar Pradesh director general of police (DGP) OP Singh and the state’s principal secretary (home), Krishna, a 2010-batch IPS officer, has accused the five officers of conniving with certain builders, extortionists and local journalists to ensure “transfers and postings” in exchange for money.

The officers named in the letter included Rampur SP Ajay Pal Sharma, who is probing a land grab case against Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan. Pal was previously SSP Noida when he had carried out a series of controversial “encounters” in Noida and western UP.

The others named are Ghaziabad SSP Sudhir Singh, Banda SP Ganesh Saha, Sultanpur SP Himanshu and former Kushinagar SP Rajiv Narayan Mishra.

The alleged racket

According to Krishna, he was probing an extortion case, registered in August last year, when he allegedly discovered the role of the five IPS officers. His letter states that during the probe, four people — Sushil Pandit, Udit Goel, Chandan Rai and Nitish Pandey who claimed to be journalists — were arrested and booked under the Gangsters Act and the Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act.

On further investigation of their call records, WhatsApp chats, emails and bank account details, it was found that the gang was allegedly operating in connivance with the police officers, the letter adds.

According to Krishna, the call detail records (CDRs) show that the Rampur SP Ajay Pal Sharma was in constant touch with Chandan Rai, one of the accused.

The letter adds that in one of the audio recordings accessed from Rai’s phone, the middle man is allegedly assuring the SP that he could get him a posting in Meerut in exchange for Rs 80 lakh. Krishna has also claimed to possess the WhatsApp chats that Sultanpur SP Himanshu has allegedly had with two of the accused — Chandan Rai and Atul Shukla — in which there is talk of Rs 30 lakh for a posting in Bijnor, Rs 40 lakh for Bareilly and Rs 50 lakh for Agra for the SSP/SP's post.

The DGP reacted sharply to Krishna’s letter and making it public, saying that it was an “unauthorised communication and is against the rules”.

The Noida SSP has been asked to provide an explanation for violating Section 9 of All India Service rules. It is a violation,” Singh said.

He also said authorities have initiated an investigation into the allegations but are yet to check the authenticity of the videos shared by Krishna. Cyber crime experts have been roped for the probe, he added.

The orderly system

The orderly system in the police was introduced by the British in the late 19th century. An orderly is expected to help officers in maintenance and upkeep of uniform, answering telephone calls, attending to personal security and also run small errands.

The Karnataka Police Manual as well as those in other states prescribes the scale of orderlies for senior officers. While the DGP and the Additional DGP are entitled to get six orderlies each, the IGP gets four, DIG and SP get three, the deputy SP gets two and inspectors one.

But many officers draw more than prescribed. Though the Manual says that orderlies must be taken from armed units, many civil police constables are also orderlies. These orderlies rarely attend drill and inspections and work at residences of senior officers.

Over a period of time, orderlies began to be misused for cooking, washing, taking officer’s children to school, shopping for the officer’s family, etc. An orderly thus became more of a menial servant. A few decades ago, the minimum qualification prescribed for an armed police constable was seventh standard.

Nowadays, almost every constable is a graduate. However, the demand for abolishing the orderly system, raised during a police strike in 2016, fizzled out.

The second Administrative Reforms Commission (2005) and the 6th Pay Commission (2008) had recommended the abolition of police orderly system. They questioned that when the Air Force and the Navy had abolished this system, why should the Army and the Police continue with it?

In 2013, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home under Venkaiah Naidu recommended that since the orderly system affected the morale of the police personnel who are trained to do regular police jobs, it should be abolished. The Committee noted that there is a severe shortage of over five lakh trained police personnel in the country. But the system continues.

Custodial deaths

As many as 100 people died in police custody in 2017, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. Of these, 58 people were not on remand — they had been arrested and not yet produced before a court — while 42 were on police or judicial remand.

In 62 cases pertaining to custodial deaths, 33 policepersons were arrested, 27 were charge sheeted, four were acquitted or discharged, and none was convicted.

Suicide, the most reported cause

Custodial deaths reported in India increased by 9% from 92 in 2016 to 100 in 2017, as per NCRB data. Andhra Pradesh reported the most deaths, 27, followed by Maharashtra (15) and Gujarat (10) in 2017. Suicide (37) was the most reported reason for custodial deaths in 2017, followed by ‘death due to illness/death in hospitals during treatment’ (28) and ‘injuries sustained during the police custody due to physical assault by police’ (5). ‘Other’ reasons — not specified — accounted for 22 deaths.

Human rights violation

The NCRB also recorded 56 cases against police personnel for human rights violations in 2017; 57 police were arrested, 48 charge sheeted and three were convicted.

Most cases registered under this category were for ‘torture/causing hurt/injury’ (17), followed by ‘deaths in custody’ (7), ‘encounter killing’ and ‘extortion’, both registering six cases each.

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