Leave policing to professionals, says ex Mumbai top cop Julio Riberio
Photo Credit: ANI

Mumbai: What worries me and what does concern the people of Mumbai is that their Police Commissioner is being systematically reduced in stature to a figurehead who will be entitled to be called 'Commissioner' but will have to function as a mere agent of the party or parties in power!

Ever since the Commissionerate was established in the colonial era and 73 years after Independence, the Police Commissioners of this city have commanded and administered their police force. To command and administer the chief must necessarily know his officers and place the right man or woman in the right place. If the politicians in Mantralaya are going to usurp this function, the chief will be a non-entity in his own organisation.

Deputy Commissioners of Police are of the rank of a Superintendent of Police in the districts. Seventy-five percent of the Deputy Commissioners are to be drawn from the cadre of the IPS. Only 25 percent can be filled by promoted officers from the ranks or from the cadre of the State Police Service. The ratio of 3:1 is not being respected of late. The state governments always relate better to officers hailing from their own states to do their will.

Deputy Commissioners are posted to the City Police by the State Government. After they report to the Commissioner, it is his prerogative to post them to zones or non-executive posts where he feels they will contribute best to the overall performance of the Force which he heads. He cannot afford to make a mistake. If he puts the wrong officer in crucial slots, the choice is bound to boomerang on him. His mission to secure the lives and property of the citizens and maintain peace in the city will fail!

It is unacceptable for the politicians to dabble in the internal working of the Force. It is their job to choose the right man to the head the Force and then leave the appointee to deliver the goods. If they have made the wrong choice they must hasten to correct the mistake and replace him or her before further harm is done. But under no circumstances should they attempt to run he Force themselves or through ‘babus’ in the Mantralaya. That would be definitely fatal. That would deprive the citizens of their right to good policing.

If the Defence Minister of India decides to choose Battalion Commanders, we will lose every battle and the war if there is one to fight. So also daily battles and skirmishes on the streets of Mumbai will be lost if the State Home Minister goes about ordering transfers of Police Inspectors in charge of police stations or Deputy Commissioners in charge of zones, cutting edge jobs in the Police Force. And this is precisely what is happening not only in India’s financial capital but even in the country’s political capital and in the capitals of the States.

This has led to poor standards of policing in the country, to run away corruption and, worse, to indiscipline in organisations that require to respect and enforce the law. If a very contemporary example of my treatise is required in order to prove what I am stating, you do not have to go beyond yesterday’s newspapers where the law breakers turn the tables on the law enforcers and killed eight of them in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh!

If Mumbai’s Police Commissioner had made a fatal mistake in shuffling his officers for considerations different from good policing, the remedy was not to belittle him publicly by countermanding his orders but to gently and quietly ease him out of a job which was beyond the strength of his character and his sensibilities.

The people’s good is what the political class often forgets after they are installed in power. They choose chiefs who are not cut out for the job or who are not respected by the public.

(The author is a retired IPS officer who served as Mumbai Police Commissioner, DGP Gujarat and DGP Punjab, and is a former Indian Ambassador to Romania.)

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