‘Police force can’t be run from Mantralaya’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/police-force-cant-be-run-from-mantralaya/

‘Police force can’t be run from Mantralaya’

At an Idea Exchange,former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro and former director general of police Arvind Inamdar share their views on Transfer Act and disagree with the Home department’s move to take away powers on transfers and promotions in the force from the DGP.

SMITA NAIR:Why does this issue of who gets to control the force and transfer and promotions matter?

Julio Ribeiro:We (D M Sukhtankar,former chief secretary and former police commissioner Satish Sahney) met the Chief Minister on May 1 and told him that you cannot run a police force from Mantralaya. You must have it run by professionals.

Suppose you apply this to the Army. Today,the General decides where everybody is posted. But if he has to transfer the heads of the Northern Command and so on,he has to go to the political leadership but they go as per his recommendations. But here,you are deciding everything according to who approaches you,who is willing to pay,who is going to give you more votes and who puts pressure on you. How can you run a force like this?

P VAIDYANATHAN IYER:How has the Transfer Act been used? julio ribeiro: They took advantage of the fact that Anna Hazare got the Transfer Bill passed because he found out that they were misusing their powers and transferring people at the drop of a hat. So R R Patil said that in that law the power to transfer gazetted officers lay with the Home Minister and if there was any departure from the rules,then with the Chief Minister. So the Home Minister said many of the cases were departures and go to the Chief Minister and the Chief Minister said only those cases come to me,so I said why should they come to you at all? You do not need these powers,you don’t have to run the force,you have to lay down the policy,your job as an elected representative is to see that the police do not misuse their powers,that the police help the people to maintain law and order,that they do their job as per the Constitution. This is the role of the elected representatives.

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SAGNIK CHOWDHURY:Is there a clash of egos? Have bureaucrats played a role in the issue?

Arvind Inamdar:First,let us see how we run a department. Any department,if it has to be run properly,there must be the power to promote and secondly the power to punish and the power to transfer,too. If these powers are not vested in the head of the department,it will not be possible for any head of department to function. In our time,there was not much of political interference. Officers at every level knew that the real power rested with the IGP.

Babus have played a mischievous role. In 1987,the then DGP said as the home secretary was junior to me and citing an order passed by Punjab High Court,my ACR should be written by the chief secretary. But the babus said the ACR must be written by the home secretary. But the babus changed the Mumbai Police Act and over and above the DGP,babus become the head of department.

SAGNIK CHOWDHURY:Is the government simply hungry for power?

Arvind Inamdar:The real problem in my opinion is this: The role of the government should be to decide policy. The implementation is always the job of the government servants,like the police department. And then,if there are wrongdoings in implementation,the government is there to punish us. But what has happened is that the government has usurped the role of administering things. That is where the danger really is. Because the government wants to administer everything,and in the name of administration they are collecting money.

Like mango and grapes,this is also the season of transfers. In the corridors of Mantralaya you’ll find so many police officers who have come with one purpose,like bees going towards the honeycomb. Ultimately,this will reflect on the security of the citizens of the country.

Julio Ribeiro:There were communal riots in Gujarat and I was then the DG of CRPF. I was called to the PMO and was told to go to Gujarat. The army was out for five months. The general who was in charge told me that I require five months to put them in battle-shape. The army could not settle that and I was asked to go. I said only on one condition — that you will not interfere in postings and transfers. I am in charge of my men and they should look up to me. I’ll get it done. In four months,we settled that. We caught many of the VHP people who were rioting. And on the Muslim side were the underworld characters. And the officers were in their favour because they were getting money. I said I want those people inside. And I got them in and the whole thing stopped.

SHUBHANGI KHAPRE:Do you think the problem lies with the coalition government?

Arvind Inamdar:I don’t think so. In fact,it is a tendency. I knew Yashwantrao Chavan well,a visionary politician. He used to say politicians must learn to say no and officials must learn to say yes. Babus nowadays are more than willing to bend over backwards. They will do anything. Ultimately,the aim of a politician is to be in power. If something happens in Maharashtra or India,they will again blame the police.

ZEESHAN SHEIKH:The perception is that when the politicians ask the policemen to bend,a lot of times they decide to crawl. And now politicians are saying that this issue is being raked up because the interests of the DGP are at stake.

Julio Ribeiro:What is the interest of Sanjeev Dayal? He has only one interest,to see that you run the professional force and that the people are satisfied with the service.

Arvind Inamdar:No. Apart from that,there is a government above. It is not as if he is the final authority. Suppose any person feels that injustice has been done to him,there are so many avenues open. There is the home department,the CM,the court,the MAT.

ZEESHAN SHEIKH:If we say that the politicians should not interfere and should only be approached if someone has a grievance,if there is a spate of such cases,if the number of complaints going to politicians is increasing,then is it time to look within?

Julio Ribeiro:It is not. I know that the Establishment Board,under former DGP K Subramaniam,has sent its recommendations to the Board. The entire thing was changed except for a couple of recommendations. Subramaniam wrote to the HM asking how all his suggestions have been overthrown.

The DGP and his officers know who is capable of doing what job,but politicians have usurped that power. Formerly,the IG,there was no DGP in those days,would send recommendations to the govt about senior officers. All were accepted. If there was some difference,the home secretary would discuss it but that was rare. But here,just one or two are being passed. I was surprised. Even with the new recruits,the trainees,they changed 23 out of 28 recommended postings. That means from the very beginning,you are introducing them to a culture of pilferage.

ZEESHAN SHEIKH:What is your perception about how MAT functions? Also,since the controversy broke out,we have met R R Patil twice or thrice and he has said the same thing: that whatever transfers are ordered by the DGP,the case goes to MAT and it seems that the DGP is being doubted.

Julio Ribeiro:They have gone because of the Transfer Act. It was applied it to the police and that is why the cases have gone there.

SAGNIK CHOWDHURY:This Act was brought into force in 2006… Why did you not oppose then?

Arvind Inamdar:Who listens to us? How many times we must have protested and said do not change the status of Director General of Police. In 1987,when I was joint commissioner (crime),I had protested. I spoke to the then CM several times. I spoke to the then Home Minister several times. Did they bother about it? Things were so bad,that even If I could meet the CM or HM on this matter was decided by the home secretary. Now,we are putting our foot down.

P VAIDYANATHAN IYER:Since 2005-2006,this Act has been there,but things have come to a boil for the past two years. In the past five years,we didn’t see a DGP complain even in informal talks. We haven’t seen a commissioner of police making an issue on this. What has changed now?

Julio Ribeiro:We have got into that. Although they brought the law,they did not change the system. The DGP continued to transfer those people. The Commissioner continued to transfer up to inspector. Later on when personnel started going to MAT,people raised the pitch. On the basis of a MAT decision,in the case of an inspector,who said the DGP has no powers to transfer me,and when MAT upheld it,the home department said,yes,the inspector is right. The MAT is right. And then they took his powers away. They want more and more power.

SHUBHANGI KHAPRE:The Home Minister says he himself tried to tell the Cabinet that the police should be out of Transfer Act. Are you doubting his integrity?

Julio Ribeiro:I do not doubt his integrity. He has shown me also that he has opposed it. But what he has done after opposing it is every year he has sent a letter saying “I am in charge and I am delegating my powers”. Why should he then delegate it,it should be his inherent powers,not delegated. Who says it is delegated,it is your purpose,your role to supervise and to monitor.

P VAIDYNATHAN IYER:What is the problem with the Act,if the Act says so?

Arvind Inamdar:If the Constitution can be amended over 100 times,what is so sacrosanct about Transfer Act?

Julio Ribeiro:On transfers,the Police Manual is more stringent than Transfer Act. We have shown it to them in our note to the government. If you are talking about law,one can be questioned if you don’t stick to the police manual. Go back to the Bombay Police Act,as the police was controlled by this Act and the police manual. We were not like the other departments of the government who do not have their own Act. Number two,the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh’s case has given a directive and once the Supreme Court gives the directive it becomes a law under Article 141 of the Constitution. They have to follow it. We will argue on this point at the Supreme Court where this matter will come up on July 10.

SHUBHANGI KHAPRE:The Home Minister says the gazette rank was given as the police personnel were getting secondary treatment to tehsildars. Is this view correct?

Arvind Inamdar:This is not the case. This was done when I was DGP. It worked well. In the sixth pay commission,they did not give the same grade,and the same pay to the inspector and DySPs. They use this gazette status where it suits them.

ZEESHAN SHEIKH:In many states,APIs and PIs are still not considered gazette officers. arvind inamdar: I was partly instrumental in elevating the post of PIs and DySPs. At the time,Gopinath Munde was DCM and HM. I said PIs and DYSP should be elevated. They must get proper pay and their status must be equivalent with the revenue department,and yes,the government agreed that the PI must be equated to tehsildar,so that he becomes a class I officer and the DySP become equivalent to SD. And then suddenly,taking the advantage of this,transfers! This was not intended. Intention was to enhance their status. Police inspector was a class two rank officer in our state,when other states did not even recognise this.

SAGNIK CHOWDHURY:What is the scope for merit in postings of commissioners and other top posts? Should it be decided by seniority or by tenure?

Julio Ribeiro:The police commission has said this,which even the Supreme Court has upheld,that you make a list on the basis of seniority,and of people who are fit. This should be done by the UPSC. Three names from this list will go to the Police Security Commission and they are the ones from whom one is to be chosen. Those are the rules and they are not following it. Otherwise,here in Maharashtra,in many cases in the past,people who have not even got one medal,which shows they are unfit or are corrupt,are sometimes made the Director General of Police. Today in central government,they don’t take people who are not in the select list. We must have a list like that for the senior posts.

SAGNIK CHOWDHURY:Weren’t you also pushing for a five-year probationary period of persons joining the force?

Julio Ribeiro:Yes,now I am told the government is thinking of it. When you first join,how do they gauge if you are fit or not? How are we recruited? We could have gone into any service. It is not that we were fit for the police that they took us. Our ranks were such that they put us in the police. In my year,they said the first 40 will go to IAS,the rest will to police. In fact,in my batch there were two brilliant persons who would have stood first in IAS. Because they were below age,they weren’t allowed to appear again.

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A five-year probation will see if you are psychologically fit. There are a lot of misfits. Then there many who come to this profession only to make money.

(Transcribed by Srinath Rao & Gautam S Mengle)