Directives of the Supreme Court and Essentials of a New Police Act in Tamil Nadu

INTRODUCTION

Consultation on the Directives of the Supreme Court and Essentials of a New Police Act in Tamil Nadu held on Thursday, 26th September 2013, Chennai. Around 76 participants from civil society organisations, senior police officers and administrators, lawyers, women’s organisations, political party leaders, human rights organisations and social movements participated.
The main objective of this is to review the Tamil Nadu Government’s Ordinance which was promulgated by the Governor on 10th September 2013 called The Tamil Nadu Police (Reforms) Ordinance 2013. The Consultation will critique and make recommendations for amendments to the Ordinance (which should be changed to a Bill and widely circulated before becoming an Act).

The need for police reforms in India is long recognised. There has been more than three decades of discussion by government created committees and commissions. No recommendation was adopted by any State Government. This persuaded two former Director Generals of Police (DGPs) in 1996 to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court asking the Court to direct Governments to implement the NPC recommendations.

A decade later in 2006 the Court delivered its verdict. In what is popularly referred to as the Prakash Singh case the Supreme Court ordered that reform must take place. States and Union territories were directed to comply with seven binding directives that would kick start reform. These directives pulled together the various strands of improvement generated since 1979. The Court required immediate implementation of its orders either through executive orders or new police legislation.

They make up a scheme, which if implemented holistically will cure the common ills that create poor police performance and unaccountable law enforcement. The scheme puts in place mechanisms to ensure that: the police have functional responsibility while remaining under the supervision of the political executive; political control of police by the political executive is conditioned and kept within its legitimate bounds; internal management systems are fair and transparent; policing efficiencies are increased in terms of their core functions and public complaints are addressed and police accountability enhanced.

More recently the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice G.S Singhvi and Justice Kurian Joseph taking cognizance suo moto based on two media reports dated 6th March 2013 concerning the incidents of police excesses in Punjab and Bihar also dealt with the Prakash Singh case while, dealing with these on 11th March 2013, the Apex court inquired as to the state of enforcement of its directions on the Police Reforms in the Prakash Singh & Ors Vs Union of India and others. The Court again issued notice to the Centre and the Chief Secretaries, Home Secretaries and DGPs of all the States and the Police Commissioners of the Union Territories on the implementation of its directions on the Police Reforms.

Even after seven years of the Supreme Court Directions and the need to frame new police acts for each state, similar to several other State Governments, Tamil Nadu is yet to implement the Apex Court directions to democratize the police system and make it transparent and accountable.

Follow up meetings on the Directives of the Supreme Court and Essentials of a New Police Act in Tamil Nadu held on 7th October 2013 at Dharmapuri, Salem, and 16th October 2013 at Ambur. 167 participants from civil society organisations, advocates, women’s organisations, and representatives of political parties and human rights defenders participated.
As part of the campaign for the withdrawal of the Tamil Nadu Police [Reforms] Ordinance 2013, a state Level Round Table was held before the start of the State Assembly on 20th October 2013 at Chennai. More than 29 senior citizens, concerned legal professionals, former bureaucrats and policemen, media personnel and representatives of the major political parties in the state come together to join their minds in this all important subject.
An alternative framework on Tamil Nadu Police Act has been drafted by HRF. This has been submitted to the MLA’s, political parties and members of the Select Committee appointed by Government of Tamil Nadu. It has also been discussed with Civil Society representatives and lawyers at a consultation in Chennai organized by Human Rights Foundation. The alternative framework was also released to media at this time.