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MINUTES
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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)



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EMPOWERING THE SUBORDINATES - Sankar Sen, IPS

 
 


The National Human Rights Commission came into existence in October, 1993. It was a landmark in the annals of human rights movement in the country. A blue ribbon Commission headed by a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was set up by the Government of India for protection and promotion of human rights in the country. The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, armed it with adequate power and authority to enquire into cases of violation of human rights and recommend corrective measures.

Vigorous investigation and interventions by the Commission in any high-profile cases captured public imagination and received wide coverage both in the print and electronic media. Not unexpectedly, the Commission was deluged with complaints of human rights violations from all over the country including abuse and misuse of authority by police and prison officials. As the Director General of Police in charge of Investigation, I had to take up investigation of many cases ordered by the commission. The first Chairman of the Commission was Justice Ranganath Mishra, former Chief Justice of India. He was also former Chief Justice of Orissa High Court. Handsome, fair-complexioned with sharp aquiline features, Mishra looked every inch a judge. He spoke with a soft voice and measured every word carefully. Orders passed by him were clear and crisp and revealed a practical, cogent and organized mind. When greatly provoked by errant colleagues and subordinates, he would occasionally flare up but could quickly regain his composure. He was also an excellent team leader and had the sterling capacity of carrying a heterogeneous group with him. In the meetings of the commissions sometimes sparks would fly. There were ego hassles. However, Mishra knew how to apply the healing balm and successfully assuage bruised feelings. Mishra knew the art of empowering his officers, repose trust in them and extract the best out of them. It was a joy to work with him. His familiar refrain was work with a smile on the face. He had an excellent equation with the then Prime Minister, and this helped the Commission to overcome quickly its teething troubles and get a flying start.

Despite his long judicial background, he was a man in a hurry and never allowed himself to be snowed under rules and procedures. In a petition received from an inmate in Tihar prison regarding torture and maladministration, he issued directive to call a meeting of the Home Secretaries and Inspector Generals of Prisons of different states to examine various issues concerning prison administration leading to violation of human rights. NHRC’s prestige at that time was at its apogee. There was immediate and overwhelming response from the states. Most of the states agreed to send their officers for this meeting convened by the NHRC. Both and myself, and Secretary General of the Commission R.V. Pillai burnt midnight oils to prepare background papers and agenda for the conference. As the investigation wing was looking after, human rights violations in the prisons, it was primarily my job to sweat and to do the ground work. I was the prima donna. In the inaugural session, I outlined the objectives and structure of the conference and then requested Justice Mishra to deliver the key-note address. Justice Mishra’s address was clear and pithy. He explained the rationale behind the meeting and the overarching need for safeguarding the rights of men and women behind the prison walls. He feelingly referred to mounting incidence of deaths in jail custody and appalling and dehumanizing conditions prevailing in many prisons. In the plenary session that commenced after inauguration, I requested him or any other member of NHRC to chair the session. But to my surprise and bewilderment, he asked me to chair the session and came down from the podium with other NHRC members and sat with the participants. I was stunned by this totally unexpected development. With some trepidation, I took up the gavel and commenced the job. Some NHRC members, even the Secretary General, were not exactly very happy, with Justice Mishra’s delegation of this responsibility to me. But in view of his categorical stand, they had to toe the line. He also remained present in the conference for sometime as a gesture of encouragement to me. He was happy to note that I was able to live up to the responsibilities thrust upon me.

A decade and half has rolled by. I still vividly recollect the events of that day. It was the grand old man‘s unique way of encouraging and empowering the junior officers. It was another way of telling me that he appreciated my work in the Commission. In our seniority-bound, hierarchical administration, this kind of imaginative gesture is unbelievable. Our bosses in police and administration trapped in brief authority strut and fret upon the stage and never learn the gracious art of delegation. Only good leaders can think of such imaginative gestures to electrify the subordinates and win their undying loyalty.



The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.

 
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