By- Abdul Noor
“We are demanding police transparency and accountability so we can build trust and work together to make our communities safer.” - Malcolm Jenkins
Police are expected to uphold laws. They are the ones who are responsible for preventing the commission of criminal activities. More over they are ensured with the duty to protect the people from different crimes. In simple sense the police act as the immediate guardian of the people. But just because they are conferred with this power doesn’t make them above law. It doesn’t give them an authority to violate the rights of the people. The police force is supposed to protect the people from criminal activities. They have responsibility to keep the rights of the citizens protected. It is a necessity that the police force of the country to be efficient and transparent.
There is a need for the police to be transparent and accountable for their actions. The police force is there for the protection of the people. When the kind of power that is conferred on them is too much there is a chance of exploitation by them over the citizens. When the people who should protect the citizens violate their rights using the authority conferred on them by the constitution it questions the inefficiency of the democracy.
Police accountability involves holding individual police officers and law enforcing agencies responsible for delivering their duties of preventing criminal activities and maintaining order while treating the citizens fairly and within the bound of law. It is the responsibility of the law enforcing agencies like the police to protect the rights of the citizens and protect them from harm. They have the responsibility to act as the immediate guardian of the citizens.
The police are certainly one of the most important institutions of public service. It is the first responder in any situation and it is the first one to handle any kind of emergency situations. It is where the citizens run for help in the first place. In a democratic country the police force is the most important institution to maintain law and order. With this significance authority conferred over the police, it is important that police is both transparent and accountable for their actions. With this kind of great powers which are conferred on them for the sole purpose of serving the people, it is easy to exploit them too. When such a force like police is not made accountable for their actions, it may lead to the destruction of democracy completely.
LEGAL OVERVIEW ON POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY
As there are powers conferred on the police force for law enforcing and maintaining public order, there are different laws which control the police from exploiting the citizens of India. Chapter X of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) deals with the ‘Maintenance of Public Order and Tranquillity’. Section 129 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) deals with the power of the Magistrate and the police officers to disperse unlawful assembly and the power to disperse an assembly which is likely to cause disturbance of public order and peace. It is also interesting to note that as per Section 132 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC), the prosecution of a police officer for an act committed by him while dispersing crowds can only be started if there is sanction from the state government.
The extent of force that can be used by the police officers also the procedure that is to be followed by them is given under the Police Manuals of the respective states. The police manual provides that no punitive measures shall be used by the police. It also commands the police officers to aim at low that is at legs while shooting in only necessary situations. Furthermore it commands the police officers to stop firing as soon as the crowd disperse. With the recent events including the brutality of the police officers against the anti- CAA protesters, it is well seen how much these rules are followed by the police who are responsible to protect the citizens of the nation. Precise on Crowd Control (2016) which was issued by the union government of India restricts the use of fire arms by the police officers only to extreme and very exceptional cases and when only there is a crucial and extreme threat to life and property.
ABSENCE OF POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY
In a country like India, the largest democratic nation in the world accountability of the police for the actions taken by them is important. It is to be noted that police brutality and torture in India is increasing day by day in a great rate. The failure of bringing the police officers who committed these kinds of illegal acts by the government itself shows the lack of police accountability in India. In the largest democratic nation in the world, lack of police accountability should not be an issue.
In the present day India the main reason for the absence of police accountability is that the police officers are more accountable to the political party which is ruling the country or the state rather than being accountable to the citizens of India. Due to this the actions of the police are largely influenced by these political parties. When this happens the citizens who oppose the government have less chance of getting justice from the part of the police and the chance of their rights to be violated is high.
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