Deciding an appeal filed by The Indian Express regarding non-furnishing of information by the Haryana Police Complaints Authority under the RTI Act, Haryana’s Information Commission has expressed shock over the authority lying “dysfunctional” for the past four years.
“The Commission was shocked to observe that all the posts in such an important authority in the name of police complaints authority, which is a statutory body constituted under Haryana Police Act, 2007, are lying vacant for such a long time for four years,” said State Information Commissioner Hemant Atri in a recent order. The Indian Express had moved the Commission when the authority failed to furnish information regarding the complaints received by it and subsequent action on them.
Now, the Commission has ordered that the “Chief Secretary Haryana should start the ball rolling as far as appointment of chairman and members and all other officers/ officials in the state police complaints authority with the approval of the competent authority within a reasonably time framework i.e. not more than 90 days from the receipt of this order”.
The government has also been directed to submit the compliance report regarding steps taken within 100 days. The Commission has asked the government to furnish relevant information to the appellant as and when the authority starts functioning.
In its detailed order, the Commission observed that the Police Complaints Authority set up in October 2010 was empowered to probe serious allegations against the policemen in various heinous crimes and serious injuries in police custody. “The Police Complaints Authority is also supposed to deal with the complaints of all those persons who have grievances related to violation of human rights and misconduct against the police officers. The weaker sections of the society could come to the Authority for redressal of their grievances in a democratic setup. Unfortunately, it is clear that the Police Complaints Authority of Haryana state has turned into dysfunctional body for the last four years as the Government has not appointed any chairman and any member during their period,” said Atri in the order.
In response to The Indian Express RTI application filed on April 16, 2018, the Authority had expressed its inability to provide information mentioning that currently all posts of the public information officers were vacant.
During the hearing of the case on September 10, a constable Krishanpal appeared before the Commission and informed the information commissioner that he is “the only employee posted there (at the authority) on temporary duty… from Kurukshetra police”.
Hearing the constable, the information commissioner said, “The constable appearing for the authority admitted that he is the only person who is responsible for receiving all the complaints and other correspondences running into 100s every month but cannot do anything except for putting a receipt number on all such communications and complaints.”
“It is terribly a sorry state of affairs, wherein such an important authority like police complaint authority with such a huge mandate is lying dysfunctional/ non-operational for the last four years. It is against the basic spirit of good governance and accountable administration which mandates timely redressal of grievances. Dysfunctionality in such an important authority for such a long duration is a case of administrative apathy and the same could not be taken lightly. The issue needs to be addressed at the earliest by the powers that be and it is important that the authority, start functioning without any further delay,” Atri observed in the order.
The commission is, the order further mentioned, “constrained to observe that the competent authority responsible for appointment of chairman/ members and all other officers/ officials in the police complaints authority has miserably failed in its duty to ensure good governance and providing a grievances redressal mechanism against the alleged police atrocities and complaints received on daily basis. The same needs to addressed immediately”.