Lucknow, Noida to get police commissioners with full magisterial powers, people say "Inspector Raj" is back

Lucknow: Weeks after the CAA violence which killed 19 and left scores injured, the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government has decided to adopt police commissionerate system which gives police officers magisterial power making them directly accountable for law and order. A detailed proposal in this regard is likely to be tabled in the cabinet meeting on Tuesday which will pave the way for appointment of police commissioners in Lucknow and Noida, two most crucial cities in the state, on the lines of Maharashtra. Both the districts lack police chiefs at present. While the SSP of Lucknow Kalanidhi Naithai was transferred, the SSP of Noida Vaibhav Krishna was suspended by the government on Thursday in an explicit video chat case.

As per speculations, both the appointments could be done on January 14 or 15 itself, on Makar Sankranti. Inspector General rank officers would be considered for the post. At present, big cities in Uttar Pradesh have Senior Superintendent of Police as the in-charge while smaller cities have superintendent of police. Now, an inspector general level officer is supposed to become CP. The CP is likely to get two additional commissioners of DIG rank and a few deputy and assistant commissioners.

The police department has been seeking this change for years, however, Indian Administrative Services officers were reportedly against the move as it seeks to curtail their power. As of now, magisterial powers lie with district magistrates and his deputies who are IAS and PCS officers. If the commissionerate system, district magistrates will be left with revenue related work and decisions regarding law and order, including giving permission for programmes and issuing various licences would rest with the police commissioners.

The move was initiated during Mayawati regime also but could not be implemented as IAS and IPS officers were at loggerheads over the issue. In December 2018, former Governor Ram Naik had suggested that to make law and order better the commissioner system be introduced on a trial basis in Lucknow, Kanpur and Ghaziabad where the populations exceeded the 20-lakh mark. Experts are sceptical over the move. 

Hemant Tiwari, political analyst, says that the system would being a change for better. "The proposal has been pending since 1974. Good that it is being implemented now. The violence during CAA protests exposed the lacunae of the system. The CP system would ensure more senior officers in big cities which will improve intelligence, crime control and law and order. Maharashtra and other states which have CP system have far batter policing that UP." A senior crime journalist says, "This system will bring inspector Raj as the police will have sweeping powers from giving license to weapons to permissions for rallies to implement section 144," says a senior  A senior journalist says, “You can't replicate Maharashtra or Karnataka's model in Uttar Pradesh where the social-political environment is totally different.

The police department is neck deep in corruption. Their nexus with criminals, brutality and political affiliation are no secret. That's why the supreme court had ordered a reform. Without doing that, the government is giving the Police more powers. This will make matter worse.” People also said that the exercise is a tactic to divert people's attention from the recent transfer-posting scam. Some analysts also question the rationale behind implementing the system only in Noida and Lucknow. “Had population been the criteria, then Meerut, Varanasi, Allahabad and Kanpur should also get CP.” “If the IAS and PCS refuse to cooperate, the move could backfire,” says a professor of Lucknow University.

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