TODAY -

Are the Police above the law or not?

Wahengbam Joykumar *

Public demand for ILP: Police in full action with student protestors demanding re-implementation of Inner Line Permit system in Manipur
Public demand for ILP: Police in full action with student protestors demanding re-implementation of Inner Line Permit system in Manipur



Whether Democracy has usurped all our rights enshrined and guaranteed by the Constitution?

The present Manipur has become completely a lawless jungle, where everybody breaks the law. Among the lawbreakers it is the police officials, the protectors of law who top the list followed by the high ups in the official bureaucracies who are also treading the same part solely for personal gains and benefits. There is hardly any crime uncommitted by Police, M.R, IRB and VDF of Manipur.

Some of the allegations made are
extortion of money in the disguise of insurgents,
obnoxious crimes of violating women's prestige and butchering them unchecked in series,
mocking of the women while in uniform,
sharing in the drug trafficking,
indulging as benami contractor/sub - contractors in contract works,
arresting innocent people at sweet will and torturing them and killing them in the name of fake encounter,
involving in the collection of personal debt,
threatening and intimidating the complainant seeking the protection of law,
breaking the traffic rules,
keeping delay in submitting charge sheet within prescribed periods of time under law {deliberately delaying the due process of the law) which leads to justice delayed is justice denied,
intimidating the common mass and harassing them by showing guns and their power,
firing bullets for petty and minor matters and using harsh words to the common people,
collection of money from wine vendors and gambling places,
conversion of the police stations into court (trying to negotiate parties even though the case is a heinous crime),
usurpation of money for fuel from complainants,
breaking queue at the time of procuring gas cylinders or while purchasing in the petrol pump,
execution of anything or lingering of necessary action prescribed by law at the behest of political pressure in utter disregard of law, etc, etc.

Countless are the crimes committed by them for favoritism and solely for their personal gain in total disregard of law. These are the activities which are not expected from police personnel in any state. When such a state prevails in Manipur what will be the faith of the citizen (the charges made against the police and alike department are the feeling felt by the majority of the people, which can't be out rightly neglected and denied for the best interest of the state).

We are under a democratic state where the will of the people is honored with the conviction that the voice of the people is the voice of the God. A time may come when the matter reaches the floor of the Assembly or the ParliamentBut when Mr. Gaikhangam took charge of the Home Minister, it was on 18 March, 2012, he gave a public statement that "His first priority is to develop a people-friendly police force in the state of Manipur. In order to provide a secure environment in the state, confidence building measures need to be taken up so that the general public could feel secure when they see policemen in the streets and in their home". The people Of Manipur were thrilled with joy and confidence but it is sad that the same situation prevails though a year has completed.

In another statement on 5th January 2013, "Addressing the concerns of the people over the involvement of security personnel in different crimes in the state and the people losing their confidence on men in khaki and other armed forces in the state, Gaikhangnam said that the Manipur Government has decided under a new policy to introduce video coverage in recruitment rally of Manipur police constables, "The full video coverage will be made compulsory in the recruitment process of police constables," he added. Seeking cooperation from the public in rooting out corruption, the Home Minister said he would try his best to check the practice in the police recruitment process.

But the people fail to know whether it was done transparently or not? In case transparency is there, the person is bound to know whether review/rechecking or alteration is made eventually. The question arises as counter claims are made by certain individuals. Otherwise, it is only a tall talk made to the people to befool them, a system continuing uptil now prevailing in the state. It is believed that the corruption will normally prevail. It is also pertinent to endorse that Hon'ble Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam admits indiscipline amongst cops as published in the local dailies on dated 301h April 2013.

Further, speaking to some media persons on his return journey from attending a block level political workers conference at Lamlai on that day, Mr. Gaikhangam wondered if there were certain lapses during the recruitment procedure that police personnel got involved in smuggling drugs. Hence crimes committed by the police are to continue.

It is up to the Government and Police Department to check the present undesirable chain of crimes or malpractices committed by the police personnel once for all. If the Government is sincere it will not be so tough and difficult but it requires a strong determination and Will to carry out the same. Certain exemplary punishment can bring change indiscipline amongst cops immediately. The HRI would like to suggest following urgent measures:

  • Overall streamlining of the Police personnel by giving a suitable and effective training to cope with any problem arising thereof by raising their moral standard and outlook.
  • Quick and immediate FIR and the submission of the relevant charge sheet connected with crime within prescribed period of time under appropriate law; and the gut to give exemplary punishment prescribed under law and should be carried out openly.
  • Further the orders/directives issued by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in regards to PIL case no. W.P. (Civil) 310 of 1996 filed by the retired DGPs Prakash Singh and N.K. Singh; should be strictly implemented and followed and consequently the seven directives issued should unfailingly be observed:
The directives are as follows.

1. Constitute a State Security Commission (SSC) to:

(i) Ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police
(ii) Lay down broad policy guideline and (iii) Evaluate the performance of the state police.

2. To ensure that the DGP is appointed through merit based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years.

3. To ensure that other police officers on operational duties (including Superintendents of Police in-charge of a district and Station House Officers in-charge of a police station) are also provided a minimum tenure of two years.

4. Separate the investigation and law and order functions of the police.

5. Set up a Police Establishment Board (PEB) to decide transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of police officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and make recommendations on postings and transfers above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.

6. Set up a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at state level to inquire into public complaints against police officers of and above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct, including custodial death, grievous hurt, or rape in police custody and at district levels to inquire into public complaints against the police personnel below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct.

7. Set up a National Security Commission (NSC) at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organisations (CPO) with a minimum tenure of two years.

But the intention of the Government of Manipur and concerned Department by causing a mere submission before the Apex Court that the State Security Commission (SSC), Police Establishment Board (PEB) and Police Complaints Authorities (PCA) are constituted but actually it is only in paper work far from the contact of the people which is certainly misleading to the people and exposes clearly its lack of sincerity and manipulation; such malpractice will never lead to the success of Police Reformation.

Consequently, there is no easy way to make complaint against the hydra-headed action of the Police except the Law Court. Even when complaints are made, no action is initiated and kept delayed as usual, thinking that it is their prerogative right to take action or not under the notion that they are untouchable by law. Hence, the chain of crimes committed by them who are the protector of law and order is lingering in the state.

Now common people are fully fed up and disgusted with the police and their Khaki uniform, an unwanted phenomenon caused by the state Government in overlooking the serious matter thereby aggravating the matter to the extent, even when cases of Extra Judicial Executions committed both by the state police and paramilitary forces reach the Supreme Court, their attitudes still remain unchanged as it was. The Government still seems to remain without taking any appropriate measure to reform in this direction.

To cite a few glaring examples are firing bullets by a mere police constable without rhyme and reason to Miss Lisam Mala Devi - the Chairperson of Thoubal District Child Welfare Committee duly established under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act under which she enjoys magisterial power, while she was executing official duty. The Thoubal Police Station should draw an FIR against the erring cop as the attack is amounting attempt to kill and file charge sheet at the earliest.

Otherwise, the only question asked by the people is, are police above the law and whether the law permits the police to do what they desire at their whim and caprice? The second question is how long the system of giving punishment by way of keeping in mock suspension for a limited period for committing crimes and then revoking and reinstate the same person/s usually with full salary and allowances and even with promotion will linger in this State.

Whereas Hon’ble Chief Minister and Home Minister are used to give statements that anybody against the law will not be spared and befitting punishment will certainly be given. But how long will it take time to rectify or will it continue this way, is an automatic question raised in the mind of the people. When will the Government put into action the directives issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in this respect?

What are the specific difficulties on the part of the Police Department to implement the said Directives? When will the present trend of appointing corrupted retired Government personnel in the Independent/Autonomous Bodies to amend and change in the best interest of the people? To bring about transparency and accountability of the Governance, appointment of right and new generation with efficiency and sincerity are certainly needed.

Our Government must learn lessons from how Nitish Kumar -Hon’ble CM of Bihar has shown to bring a change in the State where the present problems are of more serious nature than that of Manipur. Are we to remain forever or for a long time as a mere helpless spectator at the mercy of the so called criminals consoling to our future without the security of life, justice and property guaranteed by the Constitution of India?


* Wahengbam Joykumar - Executive Director, Human Rights initiative wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on May 24, 2013



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