Social activist Medha Patkar, 68, and a law student Jinay Jain, 18, have filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court seeking urgent filling up of vacant posts in the State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA), which was established in pursuant to Supreme Court judgement in 2014 on police reforms.
The PIL filed through advocates Yashodeep Deshmukh and Vinod Sangvikar also seeks direction to the Maharashtra government for timely disburse funds for proper functioning of the SPCA and its wide publicity since many people are unaware of existence of such an authority.
On June 25, 2014, the SC passed a judgment in Prakash Singh’s case wherein guidelines were laid down for police reforms, pursuant to which the government formed SPCA and Divisional Police Complaint Authority.
However, as per reply received under the RTI December 13, 2021, the PIL states that the SPCA is “not fully functioning due to lack of funds and manpower”.
A representation was then made on February 4 this year to the government requesting to fill up the vacant posts in the SPCA and to provide adequate funds, facilities and infrastructure etc. However, there was no response from the government.
“There are a lot of complaints /grievances of the general public against the functioning of the police authorities, and there was no established authority to hear these problems,” read PIL. It further adds: “There was a need for an authority that would act as a quasi-judicial body and oversee the functioning of the Police Authorities in the Maharashtra State.”
Besides, if these vacant posts are filled then it will be beneficial for the people to seek justice and will also reduce the load on the judiciary, adds the PIL.
Out of the 25 posts, at present only the Chairman and the member-secretary are filled in by regular appointment'. The posts of the remaining members are yet to be filled by the government when about two (2) years have passed from the Chairman assuming the charge. Also, out of the posts sanctioned for office work, the post of Chief Administrative Officer is occupied on deputation.
“All other staff are outsourced peon cadre, and the rest of the posts are filled by the personnel on contract basis and manpower hired from ‘external agencies’” states the plea.
The plea also seeks that the government should give wide publicity about the SPCA and display in each and every police station of the availability of the SPCA and DPCA for redressal of complaints against the Police officers.
The PIL is listed for hearing before a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik on April 4.