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Apex court for panel to monitor police reforms


New Delhi : The Supreme Court Thursday suggested forming a committee to monitor the progress in the implementation of its September 2006 order on police reforms.

A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan made the proposal while hearing a plea to launch contempt of court proceedings against top officials of the Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu governments for their failure to properly carry out police reforms in the two states as per the apex court order.

The petition for initiation of contempt of court proceedings against the top officials of the two states had been filed earlier by former director general of police Prakash Singh, who headed the police force of Uttar Pradesh and the Border Security Force before his retirement.

Singh was also the original petitioner who had moved the apex court stressing the need for comprehensive police reform in all states to spruce up the law and order situation, improve the investigative skills of the force and shield it from political interference.

While hearing Singh’s plea, Chief Justice Balakrishnan wondered if it would be proper to form a committee to monitor the progress of police reforms in various states.

The bench, which also included Justices R.V. Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari, said the committee would not only monitor the progress in the implementation of the court’s September 2006 order, but also examine the problems being faced by various states in implementing it.

The committee, in turn, would also suggest measures to overcome those problems, it added.

The apex court’s idea of forming the committee was welcomed by counsel for Singh, Prashant Bhushan, who suggested that the committee could be headed by former chief justice of India R.C. Lahoti.

Various counsel appearing for various states also wanted the committee to be broad-based and include some experienced and retired police officers like Singh.

The counsel also wanted a role for the Bureau of Police Research and Development in the committee’s work owing to its reputation as a prestigious institution having sufficient resources and expertise on the subject.

The bench, however, restrained itself from actually forming the committee as none of the senior law officers of the government, including Attorney General Milon K. Banerjee and Solicitor General Goolam E. Vahanvati, was present in the court.

Pointing out the absence of the senior most law officers of the government in the court, a junior counsel for the government pleaded to the bench that though the government should not be averse to the idea the bench must hear it as well before passing the order for forming the committee.

Taking note of the government counsel’s plea, the bench adjourned the matter to March 24, after the weeklong vacation for Holi next week.