The Khaki is an inseparable part of our society. They are the part and parcel of our societal structure. The Policeman not only looks after law and order but also maintains peace by protecting the individual lives and property. The beauty of democracy lies in its system of checks and balances. There is a system of checks and balances in every democratic nation and federal government, and each side monitors the other to maintain them within the structure of the law. No one is above the law and rules, whether he’s a police officer or citizen, everybody is under the rules. When a citizen is unnecessarily questioned by a police officer, disciplinary action can be brought against him.
POLICE COMPLAINT AUTHORITY:
In order to track and mitigate the severe issue of police brutality or harassment, the Supreme Court of India in Prakash Singh v/s Union of India [2006 (8) SCC 1]1 has, inter alia, ordered the government at state and district level to set up an Independent Police Complaints Authority. The primary role of this Police Complaint Authority2 is to investigate the allegation against the police officer. It was meant to ensure that complaints against officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above could be brought at the state PCA and that complaints could be levied against officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police at the district level PCA. This was also to ensure that people living across the state would have easier access to a complaint body without having to travel to the state capital. The PCA is comprised of Chairman and three Members, out of which one should be a woman.
HUMANS RIGHTS COMMISSION:
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the State Commissions have been formed to deter human rights violations. In an event of a breach of human rights, a person can investigate and prosecute at any point of the investigation on his own. As a temporary relief, it may prescribe monetary and substantial compensation to victims.
The Police Complaints Authority shall investigate allegations of serious misconduct against police officers, including ‘Suo Motu’ or a petition obtained from the victim or another person on his or her behalf. Also reports from the National Human Rights Commission shall be forwarded to the PGC.
REGISTRATION OF F.I.R. REGARDLESS OF JURISDICTION:
Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure3 deals with the FIR, i.e. First information Report. In 2005, the Police Act Drafting Committee proposed that the failure to record the FIR be a criminal offence. The government needs to positively work towards this end. The government will look into this and follow a proposal as early as possible to ensure the identification of the FIR.
WHAT CAN YOU COMPLAINT ABOUT:
You can report to the Police Complaint Authority about any wrongdoing by any police officer. Any serious misconduct in any act or omission on the part of a police officer that relates to, or amounts to, an act or omission. For example-
Death in Police Custody
Grievous hurt while in custody
Rape in Police custody
Illegal or false arrest or false imprisonment
Falsification of evidence, falsifying a police report
Committing perjury on the witness stand or witness tampering
Bribing and lobbying
Unwarranted surveillance, searches and seizure of property
WHO CAN MAKE A COMPLAINT?
In most cases, the PCA can investigate allegations of serious misconduct against the police on its own or when it receives a complaint from:
A victim or a person who argues on his behalf; that maybe a friend or a relative or a member of the family;
Any individual who has observed some misconduct committed by the police; and/or
Any other source
HOW DO I MAKE A COMPLAINT:
In order to file a complaint with the Authority, you should first contact PCA for any prescribed format, if any. Only Odisha4 now has a different prescribed format. The person can make a complaint by any means, such as writing, and send it by post or fax, or submit it in person. The report should be filed after the incident5 has taken place. The complaint should be made in writing and must include your name; your address; and your contact details/ phone numbers6.
WHAT THEN NEEDS TO BE MENTIONED:
(i) What happened;
(ii) When it happened;
(iii) Whom you are complaining about, which includes the name and designation of the police officer;
(iv) What was said or done;
(v) Whether anyone else was there whilst the incident happened (witnesses) and how to contact them (if you know this); and
(v) If you were hurt or if anything got damaged.
You can attach certain important and relevant document along with your complaint, which will add more weight to your complaint. Such records could be photos of injuries, any prior allegations or complaints lodged before the police or some other forum and proof indicating that no action have been taken on the complaint.
If you hand out your complaint, please keep a copy of the complaint and the documents you have sent, as well as a date-stamped receipt with you as a record. If you are sending your complaint by registered post, always make sure that it is sent by registered post AD. The acknowledgement received will give you proof that the Authority concerned is sending and receiving your application. You have the right to be constantly informed about the progress of your case and of any final steps taken as a result of the completion of the enquiry.
Having an effective redress for a lawsuit against the police has been very challenging, frustrating and time-consuming. According to the reports of the National Crime Bureau (Ministry of home affairs)7, A total of 54,916 complaints against the police were reported in the country during the year 2015. But the Involvement of Police Personnel and action was taken against them were less. Only 16,308 investigations had been instituted and only 5526 cases had been registered against them, and only 1122 police personnel were sent to trial in the year from which only 25 police officers were convicted. An effort has been made since 1999 to collect data on the details of cases where the police have breached human rights in the form of excesses such as the disappearance of individuals, illegal detentions, fake encounters, extortion (blackmail), Torture, etc. A total of 94 cases of human rights abuses by the police (State Police) were recorded during 2015, 12 of which were found to be fraudulent. 34 police officers were arrested and no police officials were pronounced guilty.
Although, the number of cases registered and instituted are less yet there are arrests and punishments for those found guilty. This shows that nobody is above the law, if any government official too misuses his power, then he/she has to face the consequences. If, after filing a complaint, you don’t get a fair hearing, you may seek a review of the hearing and/or decision by invoking the jurisdiction of the High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. The principles of natural justice include the concept of justice and the idea of procedural fairness. The law is the same for all Indian citizens, no one above them, no one can go beyond the rules.
As Lord Acton stated “power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Let’s hope that the protector doesn’t turn into the tormentor.
1Prakash Singh & Ors vs Union Of India And Ors on 22 September, 2006
3The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 – Bare Act, LexisNexis
4The government of Odisha has, via a government order, bestowed the PCA’s powers in its Lokpal. The order further noted that all complaints against police officers should be filed to the Lokpal in a particular form accompanied by an affidavit.
5Complaints must be filed within 12 months of the egregious infringement of discipline or crime occurring in Odisha and within 6 months in Chhattisgarh.
6Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative pdf
This article is authored by Amisha Sha, Second-Year, BBA LL.B, student of Narsee Monji Institute of Management and Studies(NMIMS)
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