The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the State government to file an affidavit in reply to the contentions raised in a Public interest Litigation regarding police reforms filed by two social activists Sanjay kale and Meera Kamath.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice BP Dharmadhikari and Justice NR Borkar inquired as to why despite previous orders from the Apex Court on this issue and High Court, no reply has been filed.
In March 2019, the Supreme Court while hearing a PIL on police reform, had directed its registry to send records pertaining to vacancies in police departments in each state to the concerned High Court. Thereafter, in August, the High Court had issued a notice directing the State to place all relevant materials on record.
The present PIL was filed last year, it seeks increase of police manpower in order to implement 8 hour shift pattern in police stations with the objective of curbing occupational stress and mental health of police personnel, urban policing, etc, and increasing the strength of police forces and establishing State Police Commission for redressing grievances of police personnel as well as grievances against them. The petition further seeks directions to provide technological assistance to the police machinery.
The petition relies on several reports forming the basis of the reliefs sought therein. All these reports conclude that due to excessive long working hours without any weekly off, the occupational hazards of the police personnels have taken a toll.
"State of Maharashtra has a very low police population ratio, with only 145 police personnel sanctioned for a 1,00,000 population as against the United Nations recommended norm of a minimum police strength of 222 per 100000 population.
In the State of Maharashtra, only 2,41,813 posts are sanctioned whereas out of the said posts only 2,13,382 posts are filled in. Around 30,000 posts are still lying vacant. Whereas there are 317 sanctioned posts of IPS officers, only 255 are actually filled in."
The Padmanabhaiah Committee report in the year 2000 has recommended that to have an efficient police force it is essential to recruit more Police Sub-Inspectors than constables. Despite the said mandate, the State of Maharashtra has not made an appointment to the post of Police Sub-Inspector in the year 2017-2018 and even now the state appoints more constables than Sub-Inspectors.
The said PIL also relies upon a report by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), Union Ministry of Home Affairs on budget allocation for police reforms, training and modernisation by each state. With regard to Maharashtra, the petitioners state that the statistics is glaring. The State of Maharashtra in the year 2018-19 has received around Rs. 91.35 crores from Central and State Government as and by way of modernisation grants, however, only 9 crores have been spent.
The eight-hours shift pattern was successfully implemented in the State of Kerala,now the same needs to be implemented in the State of Maharashtra, the PIL argues.
Advocate Madhavi Ayyappan of Talekar and Associates appeared on behalf of the petitioners. Court has directed the state government to file a reply within four weeks.