Next time you see a khaki-clad constable swinging a lathi,dont forget to notice the bounce in his step. And make sure you address him as officer.
In an attempt to recharge the lathi brigade,the Gujarat Police want all its cops,right down to constables,addressed as officers. DGP S S Khandwawala has ordered that even constables should henceforth be addressed only as officers,in all official communications. Constables are actually the juniormost officers in the police hierarchy. They should be given due respect and treated as officers, he says.
Senior police officers say an administrative circular has been issued in this regard under the provisions of Section 2 of the Bombay Police Act (BPA) that declares constables as police officers and Section 157 of the CrPC that authorises all police officers,including constables,to investigate criminal offences. Copies of the circular have been sent to police commissionerates in Ahmedabad,Vadodara,Surat and Rajkot as well as SPs of all the districts for immediate implementation.
Constables are notified as police officers all over the country,but treated as mere Class IV employees,even though they fall in the Class III category. As per my knowledge,nowhere in the country are constables officially addressed as police officers, says ADGP (law and order) Sudhir Sinha.
Gujarat adopted the BPA of 1951 after being carved out of Maharashtra in 1960. Though the Act treats constables as officers,the state police in all its official correspondence addresses constables as police karamcharis and policemen above the rank of ASI as officers. Initially,the minimum educational qualification for constables in the state was class VII. In 1988,it was upgraded to SSC. Currently,the force has got several graduates and postgraduates in its more than 40,000 constabulary.
This well-educated brigade of constables used to feel morally down when they were referred to as police karamchari. Being addressed as an officer will make them feel dignified and lift up their morale, Sinha adds.
The state police had recently empowered constables to conduct investigations into criminal offences,including arresting the accused and filing chargesheets. The move was intended to help reduce pending investigations into criminal cases so far investigated by SIs and ASIs only. A police notification to this effect was issued on June 18 this year. The notification particularly noted that a majority of the constables recruited in the past few years were graduates and postgraduates with knowledge of computer,making them fit to use their services for investigations of criminal offences as well.
According to the notification,the constables with graduate degrees and five years of service could be considered for handling investigations of criminal offences by police station in-charges.