Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Treating aggressors and victims alike-the role of the civil service

IAS officers for giving equal protection to police

R.K. Radhakrishnan and S. Vijay Kumar

CHENNAI: The IAS Officers’ Association has urged the government “to take appropriate steps to ensure that all sections of society, police included, have the confidence that they will be treated with demonstrable fairness, and will be entitled to natural justice, equality before law and equal protection of the law.”

“Justice has to be done to the police as well as to the lawyers and the majesty of the law has to be upheld. While rightly paying attention to excesses by some policemen, we submit that there is an equal necessity to punish those lawyers who are guilty of crimes and to protect those police officers who were merely carrying out their lawful duty,” the association said.

In a resolution passed by the association, a copy of which was submitted to Chief Secretary K.S.Sripathi, the Association requested the government “to ensure that police officers and men have access to the best and most distinguished legal counsel to defend their actions in the course of duty, and sanction adequate funds for this purpose.”

The memorandum, signed by office-bearers of the association, including S. Ramasundaram, P. Rama Mohana Rao and T.V. Somanathan, said: “The IAS officers of Tamil Nadu note with serious concern from media reports that the police are being condemned unheard by certain sections of society and the media, and that the basic principles of natural justice and equality before law appear to be in danger of being ignored.”

The association said: “It is established that the events originated in acts of lawlessness and violence perpetrated by a section of lawyers, some lawyers resisted lawful arrest and disobeyed lawful orders of public servants who were performing their duties and that there is irrefutable evidence that a group of persons who are, or appear to be, lawyers formed an unlawful assembly on February 19th afternoon inside the court complex and engaged in serious acts of rioting and mob violence against the police, including throwing of brickbats, stones and other missiles apart from the most vulgar kind of verbal abuse.”

It pointed out that there is no provision in the Constitution, statute or case law which states that court complexes are out of bounds for the police. “We do not in any way condone or support police excesses. However, we are deeply concerned that this complex, multi-faceted problem is being treated in some quarters as a one-sided issue of police excesses. Remarks are being made on the assumption of police culpability, without giving due opportunity of being heard to the police. The reactive measures of the police are discussed without referring to the aggressive provocation which led to it. While one side in this matter (namely the concerned section of the lawyers) is free to organise, to strike, to agitate, to make statements, give interviews and supply one-sided visual information, the other side, namely the police, is (rightly) encumbered by its conduct rules and cannot publicise its version of events,” it said.

The Tamil Nadu IPS Officers’ Association said it could not come out with its views as police were party to the dispute. (Courtesy: The Hindu, 3rd March 2009)

I wish they would point us to the sections of the media who are condemning the police- for we have only been at the receiving end of absurd reports of petrol bombs being thrown from the High Court campus or constables coming to the High Court to submit resignations to the Commissioner being slashed with blades,all lapped up by credulous sections of the media. To be at the receiving end of batons and to have that compounded by ignoring large scale violence by police armed with lathis and protected by riot gear who are alleged to have "retaliated", when the facts are otherwise, is to sacrifice neutrality at the altar of partisanship. We, by no means intend to circumscribe the viewpoints of those who criticise us- it is not even within our province or power. But it is clear that those in government are closing ranks to protect those who unleashed violence on an unprecedented scale within the precincts of an institution which has safeguarded democracy during its times of peril. Such attempts not only strike at the steel frame of government but trivialise democracy itself. Mark our words, such defense of the indefensible only strengthens arrogance and lack of accountability and those who advocate such defense will surely need support and succour from us in their hour of need, for as you sow, shall you reap.

1 comment:

  1. A Courageous Magistrate

    Jagadish Chandra Bose was born on November 30, 1858. His 150th birth
    Anniversary was celebrated by the scientific community on November 30,
    2008. Sir J. C. Bose is the father of Microwaves, their generation,
    transmission and reception. He is also the inventor of the first
    semiconductor rectifier. Though a physicist, he unrelentingly did
    experiments on the responses of plants to light, temperature and other
    stimuli and wrote a path breaking treatise on the subject.

    "Life and work of Jagadis C Bose" is a biography by Patrick Geddes.
    Bose's father was a magistrate then, and the author has narrated a few
    anecdotes on the duties and actions of the magistrate, which weighed
    in young Bose, shaping his heart and mind. A brief extract from the book
    follows. The first few chapters are available online at

    For Bose's father - Bhagaban Chunder Bose, Deputy Magistrate of
    Faridpur - was the active defender, not only of the townlet, but
    of the scores of villages around as well. The modern magistrate
    is mainly settled between his court-house and his home; but here
    in those days a man was needed, picked not only for judicial
    capacity, intelligence and local knowledge, but for active
    initiative and courage, and thus prepared at any moment to assume
    command of his own police and his people as well, and be ready
    even to raid the raiders. Of this readiness various stories might
    be told. As a single example, hearing of a gang of dacoits in his
    neighbourhood, Mr. Bose mounted an elephant and, with very few
    police available, rode straight into the very heart of the
    dacoits' camp. Taken by surprise, they broke and scattered. The
    ready magistrate dropped down, captured the leader with his own
    hands, and took him back for trial.

    Such vigour of action, with total freedom from those elements of
    tacit compromise between police and crime which had sometimes
    existed before (and are said even now not to be unknown in India),
    could not but exasperate the dacoits; and their fiercer spirits
    repeatedly organised attempts at revenge. One group, whom he had
    tried and sentenced, turned on him as they were being led away
    with the threat that 'when we get out, we will make the red horse
    fly.' Three or four years later they kept their word. One
    midnight the thatch of Mr. Bose's bungalow was set on fire from
    three or four corners, and the outhouses also were set ablaze.
    Suddenly aroused from sleep by the crackling and smoke, the
    household could but rush out into the compound, without time to
    remove anything. The immediate neighbours, who as it happened
    were mostly Mahommedans, hastened to the rescue. One of them saw
    in the burning house a small figure, which in the smoke and
    firelight he mistook; he ran back to Mr. Bose, saying 'You would
    not like us to touch your idol, but I think it can be saved.'
    'Idol! I have no idol, - let me see!' - and here was the little
    daughter (afterwards Mrs. M. M. Bose), then aged only three, who
    in the scattered confusion of the family had not been missed, but
    was sitting on the bed fascinated rather than terrified by the
    scene. The father rushed in, and carried the child out; and a
    moment after the roof fell in. Everything was lost; when the
    strong-box was extricated from the ruins, ornaments and money,
    gold, silver, and copper were fused into a mass; and the horses
    and cows in the outhouses had perished. But one neighbour lent a
    part of his house, others lent clothing and cooking vessels, and
    so the family encamped as best it could for a month or more, until
    a fresh house - this time prudently of substantial construction -
    was secured. The burned house had been Mr. Bose's own, so this
    severe loss was a beginning of the many misfortunes of his later
    career. A year or two later, when the boy Jagadis was five or
    six, he recalls from a 'Mela' or popular fair, a wrestling match
    among the policemen, mostly big stalwart fellows from the
    North-Western Provinces, who practised much among themselves. A
    fine performance, though it was said afterwards not without
    previous arrangement of who was to win. A peasant onlooker
    remarked that if he were allowed to take part he would wrestle the
    champion. So Mr. Bose took him at his word, and started the pair.
    Sure enough the peasant made good his boast; but the policeman,
    indignant as his defeat, suddenly threw his legs round his
    victor's neck before he could rise. The peasant was plainly
    choking; the spectators shouted for fair play; but the angry man
    would not let go, not even for Mr. Bose's orders; so he had to
    strike him sharply on the feet till he relaxed, leaving his
    unlucky victor half-strangled. The fellow was revengeful as well
    as angry; and at a quiet corner of the road he lay in wait for
    Mr. Bose, as he would come to the Jatra, the old form of Indian
    drama, to be played that evening. He missed his intended victim;
    so outside the big tent where the play was held, he egged on his
    fellow policemen, who were also feeling humiliated before the
    peasants, to annoy and hinder them as they came to the
    performance, and keep them out of the tent, even with blows.
    Mr. Bose, hearing a scuffle, came up; and seeing the policemen
    were bullying, and wihout cause, demanded their sticks from them,
    and took up an armful. The ex-campion refused: Bose pulled the
    bamboo from his hands, and a sword fell out. With his criminal
    intent thus publicly exposed, the man fell down at Mr. Bose's
    feet, and confessed his intention to murder him. Then and there
    he was forgiven: 'Get up; go back to your duty.' He was a decent
    man afterwards.

    Another story of the same type - of mercy following justice
    instead of superseding it - is of a notorious dacoit to whom he he
    had given a long sentence. After his years of jail were served,
    he came to Mr. Bose and said, 'What am I to do? I can get no
    honest employment: I have no chance as a released convict.' Said
    Mr. Bose, I will take you into my service: this little boy has to
    begin school; carry him there, and bring him back every day.' So
    this young Jagadis, mounted on the dacoit's side, had a glorious
    half-hour or more each way, his infant mind being fed with all the
    stories of his new guardian's adventures - one for each of the
    spear thrusts and arrow-wounds from the old fights of his wild
    days, which had covered his breast and arms with scars ...
    Post by K. Ramanraj