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Legal Police Must Protect Human Rights: Justice Balakrishnan


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
The Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Justice K. G. Balakrishnan on Thursday asked the country’s top police officials to understand that a misplaced protective approach, towards the acts of omission and commission by their subordinates, breeds an attitude of impunity which was very harmful in long run in protecting the human rights of the people.

“They [senior police officers] need to ensure that their subordinates work with the spirit to promote rule of law which alone can serve as a guarantee against violations of human rights,’’ Justice Balakrishnan said.

The NHRC chief was addressing the conference of the State police chiefs, Inspectors-General of Police and senior intelligence officials here. It was for the first time that the annual conference, organised by the Intelligence Bureau, devoted an hour-long interaction with the NHRC chairperson and four NHRC members on sensitizing the senior police officers about creating the security environment that promotes good governance and upholds human rights of the people. Union Home Secretary G. K. Pillai and Intelligence Bureau chief Rajiv Mathur were present during interaction which saw many State police chiefs raising queries and narrating their experiences.
“You have to ensure that, as the very first step, policemen do not, directly or indirectly, become violators of human rights. Only then they can act as protectors of human rights. They should be sensitive and sympathetic to the plight of victims of crime,’’ Justice Balakrishnan told senior police officers.

Pointing out that the police are the ultimate vanguards of human rights, NHRC Chairperson flagged two areas where police performances besmirches their image - police encounters and custodial violence.

During the past three years, the Commission received 212 complaints of deaths in alleged “fake encounters” by the police, which seriously erode the credibility of the police and do not act as a deterrent or controlling crime. “The senior leadership has to give serious thought to it and guard against a tendency of accepting that such fake encounters enjoy public support,’’ NHRC Chairperson said.

Voicing concern over custodial violence, Justice Balakrishnan said that such a crime can certainly be prevented by the police themselves. He asked the police chiefs to provide leadership to their forces for “zero tolerance” for custodial violence. He also asked the heads of police forces to “devise ways and means” to reduce the gap between the expectations of the people from the police and the actual service being delivered to them. “You have to reach out to those sections of society who may not be in a position to raise their voice against exploitation due to ignorance, backwardness, illiteracy and poor economic conditions,’’ Justice Balakrishan said.

Noting that guaranteeing the basic human rights of the police and basic amenities of the service were the best way to motivate the policemen to discharge their duties, NHRC Chairperson said transparency and impartiality of mechanisms of accountability create strength and credibility for the police. “In other words, a democratic country like India needs democratic policing. Democratic policing is based on the idea of the police as protectors of the rights of citizens and the rule of law which ensuring the safety and security of all equally,’’ Justice Balakrishnan told the State police chiefs and senior security officials.




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