With the impending introduction of a Police Complaint Authority (PCA) in Karnataka next month, there may be nearly 10 agencies to check excesses in policing and several police officials are concerned that multiple agencies could become tools of harassment.
Police officials are now of the opinion that the PCA could be converted into a single window agency for filing grievances against the police with appropriate changes in legislation by central and state governments. “If police are overshadowed by so many reporting authorities it might make them overcautious, reduce decision making ability and render them ineffective,” said Additional Commissioner of Police (law and order) Kamal Pant.
In compliance with the Supreme Court order of 2006 for police reforms, the Karnataka government has constituted a PCA under the Karnataka Police Amendment Act 2012 under the chairmanship of retired HC judge Justice Chinnappa.
The PCA will regulate police functioning in addition to the Lokayukta, SC/ST Commission, Backward Classes Commission, Women’s Commission, Minorities Commission, human rights organisations and other internal cells in the police department that already act as checks and balances on the police.
“Some years ago an inquiry was instituted against a traffic constable over allegation of receiving bribe of Rs 350. In the subsequent years apart from proving his innocence to the internal vigilance and anti-corruption bodies the constable had to report to a commission as well. It took nearly five years for the constable to prove his innocence. The time invested and losses incurred in the process was so overwhelming that he eventually quit the force,” a police officer said. Sources said it is the lower-rung policemen who eventually become victims of such prolonged inquiries since they can neither bear the cost of legal proceedings nor discharge their duty.
According to the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, an NGO, the cost estimated by the state government in 2006 for establishing a PCA at the district and state levels was Rs 40 crore. “What is the need of another authority when so many already exist,’’ a police officer said.