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India Indian Police System Needs Reforming: Alok Mukherjee

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Indian police system needs reforming: Alok Mukherjee

Toronto, Dec 5 (IANS) Toronto Police Board chairman Alok Mukherjee, the highest-ranking public servant of Indian origin in Canada, wants India to quickly roll back its colonial-style policing system for its own good.

Policing in India is influenced by political interference and it should stop, the soft-spoken Mukherjee told IANS at his office in Toronto Police headquarters Thursday.

'India inherited its policing system from colonial rulers who treated people as enemies and used police to control them. But today's India needs a police system that is dedicated to public service,' said the unassuming chairman who often travels to his office by subway trains.

The 68-year-old Mukherjee, who came to Canada in 1971 as a student, regretted that India treats its police officers well, but not the constables who do the actual policing work. 'Look at their cops' salaries which are very low. This is an invitation to corruption in policing.'

He said India would benefit if it opted for the Canadian model of policing which brooks no political interference and attracts talented people with good salaries.

'But I am happy that the Indian prime minister and others are talking about police reforms. When my police commissioner Bill Blair and I visited Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad earlier this year, they showed a lot of interest in our policing system,' said Mukherjee who has been the Toronto Police board chief since 2005.

'Unlike India where police is an arm of the state, here in Canada policing is the responsibility of the local (municipal) community. We at Toronto Police serve only the local community, no political leaders,' he said.

Thanks to his efforts, the 5,600-strong Toronto Police - the biggest city force in the country - has hired more than 30 percent officers from visible minorities since he took over five years ago.

Kanpur-born Mukherjee, who taught English for five years at Delhi's Shri Ram College before he came here in 1971, said the Indo-Canadian community has come a long way since then.

'When my wife and I came here to do my masters in English from the University of Waterloo, there were few Indians in this country. But look now... we are a million strong and have done very well in politics, businesses, professions,' said Mukherjee.

He said he never regretted his decision to stay back when he got a job with the Toronto Board of Education after finishing his MA.

But the initial journey in Canada for Mukherjee - who later went on to become vice chair of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and serve as an advisor to the Toronto mayor - was not all that pleasant.

'There were some unpleasant examples of racism. But Canada has changed, though I won't say that racism has disappeared. But give credit to our community which didn't take things lying down,' said Mukherjee who always attends Durga Puja and other festivals in the city which has more than 8,000 Bengalis.

A voracious reader and avid writer, he said, 'I have an on-going contract with Orient (Longman) in India to publish four books. My book 'This Gift of English' came out last year, and I am currently working on another book on the literature of Dalit writers.'

As befits his current profession, he said he reads detective novels in his spare time.

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Supreme Court wants states to act on police reforms
India Gazette
Monday 6th December, 2010

The Supreme Court Monday said that it would see to it that its judgment on police reforms was implemented in its entirety and it was not left in limbo. 'We don't want our judgment to lie in the courtroom,' the court said.

There should be uniformity in the implementation of its direction on police reforms, said the apex court special bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice Aftab Alam and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan.

The court was reviewing the implementation of police reforms by West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnakata and Uttar Pradesh.

'We only want the time table for the separation of investigation from law and order duties of the police,' the court said, giving the states four weeks' time to indicate the approximate time they would require to implement the reforms in a phased manner.

A few years back, the apex court in a judgment issued directions for reforms and insulating the working of police in states from political influence.

The court said that the presence of the chief secretaries of Karnataka, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh during the hearing was a message to other states that if police reforms were not implemented, the court would take a serious view of the default.

Since most of the states were facing problem in routing the appointment of their respective police chiefs and top police officials through the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in the absence of the rules and regulations providing for it, the court asked Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium to take instructions from the government.

The court earlier said that states would get the appointment of their top police officials channelised through the UPSC. However, the UPSC returned such requests, saying that it was not its mandate to preside over the appointments of top police officials in states.

The court took note of attempts by various state government to enact laws aimed at defeating the judgment.

The court observed that once it succeeded in institutionaliding its recommendations, it would proceed to incorporating broader reforms.

The next hearing concerning the implementation of apex court directions on police reforms will be held Jan 10, 2011.