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Bombay HC Frowns At State’s Delay In Setting Up Police Complaint Authority

While hearing a criminal writ petition today, the Bombay High Court came down heavily on the Maharashtra government for delaying the constitution of a State Police Complaint Authority committee, which was supposed to become functional by October 15.

The petition filed by Bommer Limbadri Vithal seeks constitution of such an authority in accordance with the amended statutory provisions 22P and 22S under the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951. Also, a similar committee at the district level is to be constituted.

Division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice PD Naik had on Monday directed the Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Principal Secretary (Finance) and Secretary attached to the Chief Minister’s secretariat to remain present in court today. Accordingly they were present and informed the court that the State level committee will become functional in six weeks and three separate locations have been demarcated for district level committees.

Directions were issued to these senior officers after the court recorded in it’s October 17 order that there was no progress in the matter even though the Acting Advocate General had given a statement in court last month that the committee will become functional by October 15.

The petitioner had relied upon the 2006 apex court judgement on police reforms Prakash Singh & Ors v. Union of India & Ors , court had mentioned this judgement in it’s previous order. The apex court made several suggestions and observations, it said –

  • There shall be a Police Complaints Authority at the district level to look into complaints against police officers of and up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The district level Complaints Authority would, apart from above cases, may also inquire into allegations of extortion, land/house grabbing or any incident involving serious abuse of authority.
  • There should also be another Police Complaints Authority at the State level to look into complaints against officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above. The State level Complaints Authority would take cognizance of only allegations of serious misconduct by the police personnel, which would include incidents involving death, grievous hurt or rape in police custody.
  • The recommendations of the Complaints Authority, both at the district and State levels, for any action, departmental or criminal, against a delinquent police officer shall be binding on the concerned authority

All the submissions made on behalf of the state government today will have to be submitted in form of an undertaking, the bench said.

This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.

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