Government panels to probe police atrocity complaints


New Delhi: The government will set up authorities in seven union territories to probe cases of alleged police atrocities like custodial death, rape or attempt to rape or any other “serious misconduct”. The move comes four years after a Supreme Court ruling on the subject.

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“The functions of the Police Complaints Authority will be to inquire into allegations of serious misconduct, like death in police custody, grievous hurt, rape or attempt to rape, arrest or detention without due process of law, extortion, land or house grabbing or any incident involving serious abuse of authority against police personnel,” a statement from the union home ministry said Thursday.

The decision comes after a Sep 22, 2006, Supreme Court ruling directing the government to put in place a mechanism to investigate allegations against police.

Cases can be registered by the authority either on its own or on a complaint from a victim or any person on his/her behalf. The national or the state human rights commission or any other source can also register complaints with the authority, the statement said.

“The authority shall inquire into a complaint of such arrest or detention, only if it is satisfied prima facie about the veracity of the complaint,” the statement said.

It will be a single-member authority in Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep. In Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar islands and Chandigarh, there will be chairperson and two members in the panel, and in Delhi the authority will have a chairperson and three members.

The chairperson and members of the panel in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Delhi and Puducherry will be appointed by the administrator of the union territory.

And in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep, the panels will be appointed by the union territory administration in consultation with the central government. The panel heads and members can be removed only after giving them an opportunity to be heard and after prior approval of the central government.

The authority after investigation can report its findings to the police officer heading the force in the union territory with a direction to register a case and/or initiate departmental action based against an accused.

“The directions of the authority shall ordinarily be binding, unless for the reasons to be recorded in writing, the union territory administration decides to disagree with the findings of the authority,” the statement added.

The union territory administrations have been urged to take necessary steps immediately to set up the probe panels.

Setting up of such panels is one of the key measures in the proposed police reforms in India. However, many states are reluctant to implement such reforms. Law and order is a state subject.