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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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Senior Fellow-Institute of Social Sciences
Former Director General National Human Rights Commission
Former Director- National Police Academy

Law Enforcement and order maintenance is the prime responsibility of the police in any society. The word Police is derived from Latin word Politia, which stands for state or administration. Police is the main agency through which preservation of peace and order is ensured by the government. The job of the police is difficult, hazardous and can be unbelievably thankless. Indeed, from no other profession, so much is demanded which so little recompense. Police profession also lionizes toughness and machismo qualities, necessary for ceaseless battle against the forces of lawlessness and disorder. This stern message was continuously drummed into our ears during our training as probationers days at the Central Police Training College, Mt. Abu. We were told that the police service was not for the weak and faint- hearted and not for people with namby pampy thoughts and utopian ideas. The war against crime is unending, a Sisyphean task meant only for the tough and undaunted. During my period of practical training as Assistant Superintendent of Police, Cuttack, some of the old war horses, including my SP, repeated the same adage and asked me to forget what had been taught in the training school and adjust myself to the stark ground- realities. The dominant police view is that, "ends justify the means" and for ensuring that criminals get their just deserts, the Police, if necessary, should bend rules and get round laws and not hesitate to practice what is called "noble cause corruption". Good policing is not possible by acting within the four corners of law. Fortunately, during that period I have had the opportunity of coming in close contact with the then Chief Justice of Orissa High Court, R.L. Narasingham. He was a member of the Indian Civil Service (ICS) but opted for the judicial side. Short and gaunt with sparkling eyes and smiling face, he was a simple man unaffected by the dazzle and majesty of the service he belonged to. The first day I met him at the Cuttack club, his immediate question was why I do not come for playing tennis-a de-rigeur for an assistant superintendent of police. I mumbled some excuses, but there was no escape. Narasingham used to come regularly to play tennis in the club. I used to get calls from his Registrar that His Lordship wants me to come to the club to play tennis that too in proper kit. Thus, began my initiation in tennis. The tennis marker of the club Pankaj gave me many useful tips and I was able to pick up the game tolerably well within a short time. This proved to be a boon in my long service career. Later on, as the Director of the National Police Academy, I played and enjoyed tennis with the IPS probationers and thereby forged a close understanding with many of them. However, to go back to my Cuttack days, I also had the chance of long and interesting tte--tte with Justice Narasingham after the games. He had a sharp analytical mind and his observations on contemporary events and dramatis personae in Orissa's political firmament were both incisive and insightful. He also recounted with evident glee, interesting anecdotes, including scandals about some of the leading lights of the club. Because of his civil service background, he was quick in taking decisions, a quality missing in many in judicial fraternity. I shall always remember one of his many memorable aphorisms which later on I have repeated to many of my junior colleagues and probationers. He asked me to always remember as a young police officer that the role of the police is to maintain law and order but order through law otherwise, dacoits any day could maintain better order than the police. Over the years, I came to understand and appreciate the importance and import of this insightful observation and tried to adhere to it to the best of my capacity. It helped me immensely in my discharge of duties. In police job, one has to constantly encounter the dregs of society, the scum of earth and witness mans inhumanity to man. Many policemen, says Berkley criminologist, Gordon Misner, Picture themselves as crime fighters standing against the Mongol hordes without the support of the public, politicians or courts. This misconceived zeal makes them think that the hardened criminals will not respond to normal methods of investigation and detection and so they resort to practices, which are downright questionable and illegal. But this, without doubt, is a perverted and wrong approach. Crime is contagious, and there will be utter contempt for law if police themselves become the lawbreakers. In any democratic society, law vests vast powers in the hands of the police to curb lawlessness of anti-social elements but also keeps provisions to ensure that these powers are not misused or abused to imperil the freedom of the citizens. The mandate of the police to use force to curb violence raises the key issue that police themselves should not indulge in unnecessary or excessive use of force. Lawless police is an abomination in a free society. It is mistakenly argued that to control the dreaded criminals or terrorists, tough policing involving violation of laws and rules is necessary, if not unavoidable. With my long years of experience in active policing, I have always felt that this is an erroneous argument, and there is always the danger of police officers sliding down the slippery slope. Once a certain degree of force is permitted, the police officers face an overwhelming temptation to apply as much force they consider necessary to obtain the sought-after information. I have seen promising careers of young police officers coming to a sad end on account of transgressing laws and perpetrating illegalities due to the mistaken notion that end justifies the means. In any conflict of ends and means, the point to be borne in mind is that if the ends are important enough to justify the means. Conviction of a criminal is important, but more important is the fact that in a liberal democracy, the police are expected to carry out their activities in a manner that advances the value of a liberal society. Adoption of impermissible means may ultimately undermine the end. The Independent Commission of Police in Northern Ireland (Patten Commission) has aptly said that bad application or promiscuous use of power to limit a persons human rights by such means as arrest, strip-and-search, house searches, can lead to bad police relations with the entire neighbourhood, thereby rendering in effect policing of those neighborhoods impossible". Adoption of unlawful means damages the standing of the police and also their effectiveness. To my mind, Narasinghams perceptive words sum up the essence of law enforcement and order maintenancecore functions of the police.


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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