Union minister Kiren Rijiju today said the police action can be tough in exceptional cases where citizens do not abide by the rule of law, even as he highlighted the need for reforms in the force.
"Here in India, there is a fashion to say that the whole police are corrupt, politicians are corrupt, system is corrupt and even judges are corrupt. It is easy to blame each other but there is need for reform in people's mindset also," the Minister of State for Home Affairs said.
"India must be governed by the rule of law," Rijiju said at a conference here organised by Indian Police Foundation on the occasion of 10 years of the Supreme Court judgment on police reforms.
"When citizens are not behaving according to the rule of law, in those circumstances, the police must be tough. But that toughness in the police action must be exceptional. It must be the exception and not the common practice," he said.
Rijiju said there is a need for reform in every sector, including the police, the judiciary and the administration as well as the society.
"When people say that all politicians are thieves, I say politicians do not have their specific character, as they derive their character from the society. So, the mindset of the people and the society has to be reformed," he said.
He said those who serve in the police must realise that they have a responsibility towards the society and remarked that their's is "not a job, but a service to the people".
Noting that there is something wrong in the way many look at the police service, he said, "I feel that we must develop credibility. Satisfaction will only come when we have respect for the service and for these, reform is required in police."
Lauding the Police for its diligence, Rijiju said nowhere in the world is there a police which works as hard as the Indian Police does. "They are on duty round-the-clock. They sacrifice their own leaves, their festivals to make sure that the people enjoy their life and festivals. Their hard work is not recognised by people," he said.
The MoS remarked that he was "very unpopular" among his colleagues in Parliament because he does not heed to their "requests" seeking transfer of policemen.
"There are 543 Members of Parliament and people make their request for transfer through their MPs. Since I do not heed to their demands, I have become very unpopular," Rijiju said.
He said that apart from the reforms in the police, the force must act according to the elected government. "Since the leaders are answerable to the people, the police should pay heed to the instructions of the elected representatives, so that the citizens can be served," he said.
Calling for "reforms within the police", Rijiju said the force needs to be adaptive of the local conditions and work in coordination with the locals.
"We talk about the police reform, within the police also there has to be reform. Police must have public coordination. Some people from the northeastern region say that when they visit police stations, police do not take their complaints. So there must be reform at the ground level within the police and they must be adaptive and according to the society.
Rijiju said it is sad that in some areas people try to
dominate the police by using political power, arms or resources and in many cases they are brought under fear.
"In some cases, even an SP (Superintendent of Police) gives taxes. It is very sad. In some circumstances, the police must be tough in exceptional cases," he said.
Prakash Singh, Chairman of Indian Police Foundation, a research organisation aimed at improving policing by bringing a culture of evidence-based policing in India, called for the implementation of the 2006 judgment of the Supreme Court on police reform.
"The Supreme Court judgment has to be implemented but the matter continues to drag on. Some of the states are very clever. In the judgment, there was a provision which said the order must be followed until new Acts are passed. Thus, the states quickly passed new Acts which legitimised the status quo. Nothing has changed on the ground level as far the police reform is concerned," he said.
The objective of the police reforms is upholding human rights, better law and order, better policing, benefiting citizens. It is not aimed at glorifying police, he said.
Referring to the continuous tussle between the Delhi government and the Centre over authority on the police, eminent jurist Fali S Nariman said, "Delhi is neither a Union Territory nor a state. It is half a state. Delhi Police is certainly not a happy lot. While the Aam Aadmi Party pulls them one way, the Union ministry pulls them the other way."
"Definitely, they (the police) need more protection than the citizens of Delhi," he said on a lighter note.
Apart from them, N Ramachandra, President of Indian Police Foundation, Maja Daruwala, director of Commonwealth Human Rights initiative, former Union minister Veerappa Moily and former chief justice of India Justice R C Lahoti also supported reforms in the police.