Millennium Post

The diarchy conundrum

Delhi Police’s present division of control makes the recent disruption pale in comparison

The diarchy conundrum

Thanks to a plethora of images constantly flickering on television sets from November 4, the recent and ongoing fracas between the Police and lawyers in Delhi has set alarm bells ringing. The ultimate falling out is the demonstration in front of Police Headquarters of men and women of the Delhi Police, without uniform and in uniform, shouting slogans with placards in their hands. They heckled their Commissioner, turned a deaf ear to their Special Commissioner's pleas to call it off and behaved in an insolent manner with other seniors. They cried out names of Kiran Bedi and Deepak Misra as officers who looked into their concerns implying there is no one doing so now. When uniformed force feels forlorn and forsaken, the foreboding is grim.

As Delhi LG's OSD, having dealt with the Delhi Police from 2007 to 2013, I am implying the woeful plight of nearly 90 per cent of this 84,000-strong force which is both, the victim and perpetrator, in the authority exercised over this force. The seniors, IPS and those from the State Police services, who later join them from the States of Arunachal, Goa, Mizoram Nagaland and UTs of Andaman, Lakshadweep and Puducherry, have the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as their controlling masters. The rest, that is the bulk of the force, is controlled by the State Government that has recruited them through the Home Secretary and the LG. In other words, if the entire force is one entity, its top is with MHA and its bottom, the heavier and the bulky part, is with the State. The latter's service interests lie with the State while their bosses are with MHA. When the service is one unified force, however, the top and bottom answer to two separate authorities who are often politically apart, is it a surprise that their interests do not meet?

But let us only talk about Delhi. The others have not been singled out yet. They may well soon come under the spotlight as their top cops have been branded by locals as 'suitcase officers'. In other words, they go to and fro and catch no moss!

When the top echelons in their force look to someone different for their needs and demands, it points to an inherent defect in the system of the Delhi Police. Delhi State has a Home Secretary as well as a Home Minister. Finally, it has a Lt Governor. These three separately and together control, manage and serve Delhi Police interest. They almost always exclusively interact with the top brass in Delhi Police. That interaction serves to function as guidance to the police but it hardly suffices to serve interests of subordinates in their specific problems since, for one, these problems are never broached.

Some instances for the same will suffice to elucidate the point. Delhi is a vast spread of land with acute housing problems. The ordinary Constable, Head Constable, Assistant Sub Inspector and Sub Inspector do a 14-hour shift, have no holidays and often travel long distances to their homes which are often in neighbouring states whether it be Rajasthan, UP or Haryana. There is housing available for their purposes only but a small percentage can be accommodated in said housing units. This limited housing is provided by the State PWD. What they provide is not only insufficient but rather barebones in terms of amenities. While higher-ups can choose between staying in state pools or central pools of housing, they can only do so in state pools. Further, there is the matter of education of their wards. They do not have any legitimate claims to Kendriya School education. Then there are the two institutions set up by the State Government for oversight and feedback – The Public Grievances Cell and the Police Complaint Authority. Their findings adversely affect only the subordinate ranks. Yet, how can that always be so? In a force where the subordinates have to carry out orders, some part of the guilt must rest with their seniors. Even if it does, in the diarchy that Delhi Police is, the senior is insulated from State of Delhi's strictures. Such a system separates the feet from the head in its worst manifestation. Finally, the LG of Delhi is a central appointee who consults the State secretariat when it considers any decision on them.

The force in Delhi Police is denied the Ma-Baap culture. And, what does that mean? The seniors do not belong to the Delhi Police in the same sense as seniors belonging to their respective forces in the states of Haryana, Rajasthan, etc. The IPS cadre that serves Delhi also serves Arunachal, Goa, Mizoram, Nagaland, and UTs of Andaman, Lakshadweep and Puducherry. How can they ever develop that esprit de corps with their men in Delhi? And, if they cannot, their men will not look to them to attend to their welfare.

Since inception, only two people – Kiran Bedi and Deepak Misra – have provided that succour, they proclaimed, while on siege the other day. They are exceptional officers for them and I know that both were passed over for the top slot by MHA. It was Dadwal who was preferred over Kiran Bedi and Amulya Patnaik over Deepak Misra. It was as if MHA decided what the feet want is not what the force needs!

There is no doubt that the diarchy that MHA enforces is behind the disruption in this 84,000-strong Delhi Police. While it can have its AGMUT cadre, it has to earmark officers permanently to different States and UTs. They must belong first to their State or UT and to their men in these States and UTs. In Delhi, both men and their superiors must be wholly under the overall command and control of the Centre.

The question that may arise is if the existing system has been there since the inception of Statehood, then why challenge its effectiveness now? Diarchy is not the preferable brand of governance. It is compelled. Political parties wanted Delhi State. It was, for want of a better word, rigged. Delhi Police was under MHA and it remains under them figuratively and factually with a fig leaf of State overview. That created no warts and pinpricks as Delhi Police was a small force almost till 2007. From about a force of 50,000 men, it now hovers around 90,000. From hardly 100 Police stations, it now has more than 155 of them. Police districts have outnumbered civil districts. Investigation and court cases have galloped. From courts, only in Tees Hazari and Patiala Houses, they spread to Karkardooma, Saket and Dwarka. There are many more prosecutors to wait on and the entire prosecution is conducted by Delhi State Government in State appointed Courts. All this while investigation is monitored under MHA controlled officers! This topsy-turvy system is made for disaster. The present division of command and control over Delhi Police spells many more troubles which will make the recent disruption pale in comparison!

Shantonu Sen is a former Joint Director, CBI and a former OSD to LG, Delhi. Views expressed are strictly personal

Shantonu Sen

Shantonu Sen

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