Insulating the police from politicians

For that purpose,it is necessary to ingrain into the minds and hearts of the police personnel that they are servants of the law and not of their current political masters.

Written by Soli J. Sorabjee | Published: August 26, 2012 2:10:10 am

Insulating the police from politicians

A fair and independent police force is essential for the maintenance of law and order,for prompt detection of crime and punishment of criminals in accordance with the law of the land. For that purpose,it is necessary to ingrain into the minds and hearts of the police personnel that they are servants of the law and not of their current political masters. The necessity of insulating the police from political interference has been stressed by different committees constituted for police reforms including the Sorabjee Committee which I had the privilege of chairing. One of the recommendations of that Committee was that an independent body should be constituted to look into the transfer,suspension and removal of police personnel and one member of that body should be a retired judicial officer. These recommendations have not been accepted by a majority of States and are strongly opposed by Maharashtra,UP and Bihar. The matter has been pending in the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh’s writ petition for a considerable time without any concrete outcome so far.

The transfer of the Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik and his replacement by Satyapal Singh is an instance of intrusion of political considerations. Apparently,the Maharashtra government succumbed to the mass rally organised by MNS Chief Raj Thackeray to protest against the alleged inept handling of the Azad Maidan riots by Patnaik. This is indeed a tragedy because ill-treatment meted out to an honest police officer on account of extraneous considerations is most demoralising. The tragedy is compounded because Patnaik’s transfer tends to impart legitimacy to MNS which in the past has shown scant regard for constitutional norms and the rule of law.

Contrasting instances of religious tolerance

Incessant rainfall prevented Muslims from praying at a ground which they normally used for prayers in the absence of a mosque there. Members of the Muslim community requested manager Buta Singh of Gurdwara Joshimath to allow them to hold Eid prayers in the gurdwara to which Buta Singh acceded. This was a heartening gesture and sends the right message which should be welcomed by all. It seems that Akal Takht and the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee whilst appreciating the gesture of goodwill,are of the view that Sikh maryada should also be looked into by Sikh clergy. The matter is slated for discussion in the meeting of five Sikh high priests. Let us hope that a spirit of amity and brotherhood prevails.

It is sad that in our neighbouring country,Pakistan,Ahmadis were not allowed in Rawalpindi to offer Eid-ul-Fitr prayers at the mosque. Prima facie this is in breach of Article 20 of the Pakistan Constitution which guarantees to every person freedom of religion. The Pakistan Penal Code prescribes harsh penalties on any Ahmadi who calls himself a Muslim or mentions his faith as Islam. Ironically an outstanding Pakistani,the eminent Justice Zaffrullah Khan,was an Ahmadi. His brilliant advocacy of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir in UN General Assembly carried the day for Pakistan. Deputy Attorney General of Pakistan,Khurshid Khan was sacked because he washed dishes and polished shoes at Sikh shrines. Khan told reporters that he would travel to Jacobabad in Sindh as part of his ‘sevadari mission’ to serve the Hindu community which was unhappy with certain elements in the local Muslim community. Khan stayed in Jacobabad and Sukkur till Eid-ul-Fitr. Khan’s example deserves to be emulated because his acts are more conducive to religious harmony and tolerance than meetings of secretaries of the two countries.

Regressive Italian judgment

Derogatory nicknames,pungent epithets and insults are routine in men’s clubs and bar associations. No person in his right senses takes them literally. Italy’s Supreme Court has ruled that it is a criminal offence to tell a man that he has ‘no balls’ because that hurts his male pride. This regressive judgment would severely restrict colourful vernacular oaths,and worse,induce self-censorship. With great respect,the judgment can well be described as ‘balls’ and that surely would not be a crime nor criminal contempt.

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