HC to UT: How have you curtailed PCA powers?

SC judgment empowers Police Complaints Authority to give orders; UT has passed notification reducing it to a recommending body.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published: August 29, 2012 12:38:58 am

SC judgment empowers Police Complaints Authority to give orders; UT has passed notification reducing it to a recommending body

The Chandigarh Administration’s stiff opposition to implementation of “directions” by the Police Complaints Authority (PCA),on the ground that PCA can only recommend and not direct,was today questioned by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Referring to a Supreme Court judgment which clearly stipulates that recommendations by the said authority would be a binding,the High Court today questioned the counsel for the Chandigarh Administration as to how have the powers of PCA been curtailed. Pointing out to the notification issued by the Administration at the time of constituting the PCA,the division bench asked the counsel to explain as to how has the powers of PCA been reduced only to a “recommending body”.

Till now,the Administration has been opposing the “directions” of PCA on the ground that the “directions” are not a binding but are mere recommendations. Appearing on behalf of the Administration,its senior standing counsel,Sanjay Kaushal contended that the petitioner has not,till now,challenged the notification issued by the Administration. Kaushal sought time to respond to the query put by the High Court.

The development took place during the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Advocate Arvind Thakur. The petitioner had moved the High Court demanding powers for the PCA which has been made a “toothless tiger”. Thakur has demanded that PCA should be given powers to pass directions to the Chandigarh Police so that its (PCA’s) orders are implemented.

During the resumed hearing today Thakur’s counsel Dhawal Bhandari produced a copy of the judgment issued by the Apex Court in 2006 titled Prakash Singh versus Union of India. The petitioner said that the relevant paragraph of the judgment makes it mandatory for the State Police to comply with the recommendations of the PCA and that the recommendations of PCA will be binding in nature.

The judgment reads,“There shall be a Police Complaints Authority at the district level to look into complaints against police officers of and up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The authority may also need the services of regular staff to conduct field inquiries. For this purpose,they may utilize the services of retired investigators from the CID,Intelligence,Vigilance or any other organization. The State level Complaints Authority would take cognizance of only allegations of serious misconduct by the police personnel,which would include incidents involving death,grievous hurt or rape in police custody. The district level Complaints Authority would,apart from above cases,may also inquire into allegations of extortion,land/house grabbing or any incident involving serious abuse of authority.”

The relevant para of the judgment adds “t he recommendations of complaints authority both at the district and State levels,for any action,departmental or criminal,against a delinquent Police officer shall be binding on the concerned authority”

Setting up a PCA contrary to the Supreme Court judgment,the High court has sought the Administration’s explanation. The Administration had set up the Commission by way of a notification dated June 23,2010 wherein it curtailed its powers. The Administration has been given four weeks to respond to the query put by the Court.

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