By L.S. Herdenia
BHOPAL: In Madhya Pradesh there is no perceptible decline in crime in general and against women in particular. The government has come under severe attack over the death of a journalist, Sandeep Sharma, in Bhind district. The sand mafia’s hand is suspected in the brutal murder of the journalist, who carried out a sting operation exposing the role of some influential people operating a sand mafia. Chief Minister Shivrajj Singh Chouhan has said that the case will be handed over to the CBI. The order of CBI inquiry is still awaited.
The chief minister is toying with the idea of introducing Police Commissioner system in selected cities which are particularly crime prone. To begin with, the state government proposes to introduce the system in Bhopal and Indore. The moment chief minister started consultation about the police commissioner system, a fierce controversy erupted involving IAS and IPS officers.
Sponsored messages are flooding the social media platforms, elaborating the pros and cons of the proposal. The IPS and SPS fraternity are openly supporting the new system. The commissioners, supposed to be manned by IG-level IPS officers, will enjoy magisterial powers presently in the hands of relatively junior IAS officers. Two posts of commissioners are slated to be created under the new ‘Jansuraksha Act’, the draft of which has already been received by the home department.
A seasoned IAS officer said that commissioners with magisterial powers would turn Madhya Pradesh into a ‘police state.’ “This is totally unwarranted,” he said and argued that unlike in Mumbai, Jaipur or New Delhi, which are metropolitan cities, major crimes in Bhopal and Indore are few and that law and order is not a big issue.
Though magisterial powers would be vested in the commissioner, these would actually be exercised by the police officers down the line. Police officers are more vulnerable to politicians’ pressure than the civil administrators and hence the magisterial powers would promote a police-politician nexus, said another IAS officer. The officer said vesting of magisterial powers in the district collector ensured that there was a ‘cushion’ against arbitrary use of executive power by the police. The separation of powers is clear. Meanwhile, a senior IPS officer said, “The police force is still working under the same old system. We feel helpless as we can do very little to contain crime and maintain law and order,” “The Commissioner of Police system is the perfect answer to meet the challenges of urban policing”, he added. Another IPS officer said police had been working day and night to break the backbone of goondas across Bhopal.
During a review of the law and order situation in the state Chouhan is learnt to have asked the director general of police and other top cops and senior officials about the system. Though the query was discreet, it still went viral on social media circles.
In April 2012 Chouhan had announced a move to implement the Police Commissioner system in Bhopal and Indore; however the process ended up with an upgrade of the existing system to senior superintendent of police system in the two cities.
Now again the matter is being raised in view of the increasing crimes in the state. In February 2014, the then home minister Babulal Gaur had also ruled out the possibility of implementing police commissioner system saying it was suitable for areas with more population, but Bhopal and Indore are less populated. Besides, in states like Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, the police force is much bigger compared to that in Madhya Pradesh. “It would also be inappropriate that those who arrest criminals also penalise them. This is an old British concept and need not be implemented in India now,” Gaur had said.
IPS officials contended that police commissioner is already in place in more than 70 major cities of the country. “The concept of Smart City is incomplete without Smart Police. Bhopal and Indore are ready to adopt police commissioner system. Both IAS and IPS officers work for public, but when you blame police for increase in crime, equip them with more powers and rights to face challenges” said MP IPS Association president and additional DG (police housing) Sanjay Rana. (IPA Service)