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POLICE IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE

Justice begotten at a cost is justice lost. The fact is lost sight of by the present

administration of justice. Justice is a natural right. It is the sine qua non and raison

d’etre of social grouping. Justice in a social environment have to be as natural as sleep or

oxygen to a living being. Free and fair justice is the leges legum of human rights. The

proficiency of justice administration has to be assayed with this litmus test and the role of

the police in the system has to be judged by its contributions to this goal of the justice

administration system.

Justice in its basic sense necessitates an integral vision. Justice abstracted from its

environment, past, present, future, diverse issues, dramatis personae and related events

cannot be justice in the true sense of the word. Justice in parts is no justice that lasts.

Justice involves delving deep down to the heart of an issue and delivering justice in

reference to all related issues and matters to the rightful entitlement of all. This

presupposes a passion for objectivity and justness and above all, selflessness in the

arbitrators of justice as well as in those who are in the service of the administration of

justice. The role of the police in the administration of justice comes to scrutiny in the

context of their non a such part in the investigation of crimes and maintenance of law and

order.
Police play umpteen roles as grassroot executors. They are basically performers,

actual doers in the field. Passion in the normal trait of action. Objectivity and justness

seldom give company to those who act to show results. Expecting selfless traits in a

profession like police is waiting for rain drops from white clouds. They do perform

duties with normal flair and loyalty while put in service of justice. The tragedy is that the

loyalty of the police prefers the interests of the rich and powerful to the abstract idea of

justice they are put in service of.

Loyalty to justice is a noble cause. It signifies a heightened mind bound to a

heightened cause. Loyalty to a value or a just cause is always a great virtue. The same

cannot be said about loyalty to individuals of whatever importance. Loyalty by

definition signifies loss of freewill and independence of thought. Loyalty is a binding,

strong in that, an emotional binding by volition, but a binding nevertheless; there is no

independence in it. It is a mortgage of the self. Loyalty denotes polarisation of the self;

devotion to one, and thoughtless opposition to whoever stands up to the object of the

devotion. This notion renders loyalty devoid of any sense of justice, which bounces from

the springboard of freedom of thought and independent judgement. Ergo, individual

loyalty in the service of the administration of justice is self-defeating to the cause of

justice. The Achilles’ heel lies in loyalty basically being a faith, a blind faith. Sans

stirrings in the conscience. It is an inferior submission to a superior existence, ipso facto

subverting per se the very foundation of the cardinal principle of equality among

individuals. The only loyalty to conscience, freedom of thought and independent


judgement. A police man with this loyalty can do exemplary job in service of the

administration of justice.

Police as the cutting–edge of the governance, enjoy enormous powers. Bringing

law-breakers and criminals to book is just a part of the gargantuan responsibilities on

their shoulders. As the task-masters of the statecraft, they are invested with diverse rights

and privileges. They have a peek to all private as well as public activities of the citizenry.

They can constrain people to perform specific tasks and forbid from doing others in the

national and public interests. They prevent, check, prohibit, restrain, regulate, confine or

arrest erring people depending on time to time needs dictated by the circumstances. They

can forcibly break open, enter, search and seize when need arises. They use weapons to

hurt and kill. The wide spectrum of powers impinging on the basic rights of the plebeian

places the police on a pedestal different from that of the common man as far as the

administration of justice is concerned. These extraordinary powers are tools of the

police in serving the interests of justice. The police, as the means of justice, are often

exempted from the process of justice by the law itself. Human nature being what it is,

the need of keeping the police in tight leash regarding exercise of their sensitive powers

has become conditio sine qua non for the administration of justice.

The relevance of the police in administration of justice is two fold; one, fair

exercise of their responsibilities in the interests of justice; two, fair exercise of their

powers to ensure that no harm is done to the process of justice. As dispensers of justice

during investigation of crimes and maintenance of law, police perform highly sensitive
tasks capable of undermining the very process of the justice administration, Police enjoy

unrestricted freedom unbecoming to the sensitivity of their job. Practically, there are no

means to force them to comply with the needs of objectivity and fairplay in work save

their own interpretations of laws and actions. Postliminary intereferences of courts are

too little, too late to be meaningful. By the time an issue knocks at the doors of courts,

damage to the process of justice could have been irrevocably done. Whatever courts to

thereafter help only partial recovery from the damage. Innocent people would already

have been arrested, chargesheeted and harassed; decent people would have been

dishonestly denied rightful dues in the name of maintenance of law; criminals would

have been willingly let off the noose; or hors la loi would have been let free to do things

in violation of the extant laws as quid pro quo. What police do in the name of dispensing

justice are material to the hoi polli, not what courts deliver, if deliver at all, at some

distant future. The fact brings the police centre-stage in the administration of justice.

Police unequipped for the crucial role is the crux of the issue. Lack of sound mechanism

of supervision and poor position of policeman in society, mediocre education, deviant

job culture etc inhibit police from performing at levels adequate for the importance of

their responsibilities. It denies them organisational pride. Field orientations distract

them from high human values. Weak economic position and easy opportunities for

dishonest riches render them prone to corrupt practices. There is nothing tangible in

their service to inspire commitment to noble causes. Their job culture does not inspire

them to delve deep into diverse nuances of their job. Their service lacks in facilities to

enhance professional competence. Consequence is shallow policing, mechanical works

en face policing crying for deep, intellectual analyses of its relevance for establishment
of a just society and national well-being. Shallow policing is responsible for all the

mishaps and turbulence of the first half century of independent India. The period saw

police distracted to go berserk seeking parochial and selfish ends. A force committed to

parochial and selfish interests can hardly do any justice to the administration of justice.

Another relevance of the police in the administration of justice is exercise of their

special powers without committing wrongs against justice. Police are dangerous fences

with their extraordinary powers potential to uproot and destroy the crops they are put in

charge. Their enormous powers presume special responsibilities on their shoulders to

protect innocent people from rash exercise of powers. This is an infinitely more difficile

responsibility considering what human nature is and how every man suffers from a blind

spot about himself. Every person is right for himself. Every criminal is just in his own

assessment. Every act, every human being, does has its own logic, reasons and

justifications. Nobody ever is wrong to himself. This is true of the police too. Every

encounter, every lockup death, every third degree method, every wrongful confinement,

every illegal arrest, every excess committed by police has its own police justifications.

It is irrelevant how the justifications. It is irrelevant how the justifications appear to

outsiders. You seld find police confessing to a wrong or an excess committed. We have

examples of police commissioners justifying gunning down of innocent citizens by

subordinates in broad daylight in a busy street as a bonafide cause of mistaken identity.

We have any number of cases of senior police officers colluding with subordinates in

destroying evidences of lock-up death cases. Punjab police revelled in hushing up cases

of cold-blooded murders through false encounters. Police excesses are justified by the

top-brass per procurationem of the solidarity of the police force as though the concept is
inimical to the interests of justice. Use of third degree methods is excused as the bedrock

of policing as if justice is as irrelevant concept as far as police are concerned. The

ambience, with the police going berserk with their special powers to establish a just

society, is not conducive to the administration of justice. The police are committing

wrongs against justice by the very means invested to them to protect the interests of the

justice. This is an irony of the relevance of police in the administration of justice.

The cause of failure of the police lies more in the systems failure the character of

its dramatise personae, deviant job culture and wrong leadership than in the concept of

police. Police in inappropriate milieu may turn into a Frankenstein. It is like a herd of

tamed elephants in a khedda operation. Lack of direction, weak management and poor

organisation turn the tamed rogues on rampage against the organisational goals instead

of bringing of knees the ferae naturae. Remedial measures have to be found for the

prevarications rather than blaming the police tout a fait.

Policing being a specialised job with rare keeks inside by outsiders about

measures and decisions taken in disparate circumstances, few outsiders comprehend that

the job gives tremendous leeway for work and decisions, be it crime investigation or

maintenance of law. This is a dangerous liberty in the system of dispensing justices that

warrant preciseness and smug exactitude in the sensitive business of balancing justice.

The sensitivity is briller par son absence in the present police and policing system.

Justice being what it is in the present age of prolate concours making threatening

differences , the leeway in policing process gives scope for favours, misuses and
corruption. Lack of real supervision and control over the work ab extra is another face of

the problem. Beginning from deciding whether a prima facie case is made out in a

complaint and whether the case is to be investigated to whether it is to be chargesheeted,

at what stage, on whom, with what all evidences, every decision is exclusive police

decisions. How an investigation proceeds, at what speed, whom to arrest and whom not,

at what stage, whom to release on bail and whom not to, what to search and seize, where,

at what juncture of time, the direction of the investigation to be pursued and what turns to

be taken at what phase, police decide on own without reference, supervision, guidance or

control from outside. Though laws provide for courts to keep track of the process of

investigation, it is rarely the case in the field. The situation is blatantly glidder in the

field of maintenance of law sans the mechanism of courts keeping track of the issues

unless the matter is filed, before a court of law. The Achilles’ heel is taken advantage of

by the rich and the powerful. Police have become willing tools in their hands in warping

justice in barter of the crumbs they throw from the res gestae of their unjust deeds. The

situation is conspicuous in police bending laws in favour of the people in power to let

them out of the noose of laws or crush their enemies or keep Sophocles’ sword hanging

on the crowns of their opponents to ease political manoeuvres. The degringolade

began during the emergency of 1975, saw a rising swing in 1980s and found in excelsis in

the early 1990s with courts taking cognisance of the situation and convinced about the

need of their intereference in the interests of the administration of justice. Public interest

litigations became popular. Higher courts ventured into close scrutiny of investigations

into cases against people in power. It became public that there was no history of

convictions of powerful politicians in independent India in criminal cases investigated by


investigating agencies including the CBI and rarely such cases were investigated but on

political compulsions. The premier investigation agency and its chief were subjected to

strictures in open courts for nonperformance, partisan approach and contempt of court in

investigations to cases against people in power. Close scrutiny of the investigations led

to arrest, chargesheet and conviction of powerful political leaders. The tragedy of the

awakening is that the so called judicial activism saw itself serving the interests of the

political witch-hunt preceded it. This considerably reduced the impact of the elert courts

on the national scene.

The witch-hunt became a part of the policy of survival of United front

government that followed. The use of the CBI and revenue enforcement agencies to

bring political rivals to submissions led to the fall of government in April 1997.

The state terrorism against political rivals became a perfect art in 1970s with the

use of intelligence agencies for surveillance and opening secret, files, and in 1990s with

the use of investigation agencies for manoeuvring investigations into criminal cases, with

the willing cooperation of police leaders in the respective agencies. While the trend

strengthened the position of the chief executive of the government, it sine dubio,

weakened the political fabric of the country, so essential for a democratic process. In

comparison , misuse of investigating agencies proved a deadlier assault on the political

process of the country. Jain-Hawala case caught the popular attention as nothing before.

The case took down its author and his party with his political rivals to the drains. The

coalition government that followed used the same ropes to strike a wedge among the
leaders of the party that supported it from outside by terrorising some through the CBI

and revenue enforcement agencies and luring others with the crumbs of power. Bofors

kickback case got a lease of life. St.Kitts forgery case and Lakhubhai Pathak cheating

case were re-enacted and manoeuvred to net-in strategic political rivals on filmsy

evidences.Rs.133 crore Urea scam and JMM bribery cases loomed large. A key leader

was interrogated without sound grounds for possessing wealth disproportionate to known

sources of income and later implicated in Tanwar murder case on suspicion. The party

was subjected to various enquries by revenue enforcement agencies. The acts nailed the

fate of the coalition government to prove that misuse of police often goes counter

productive in political manoeuvrings as did in Tamilnad where erstwhile Chief Minister,

Ms.Jayalalitha, found a series of criminal cases stacked against her and her associates,

once she fell out of power and popular support.

Recent past saw executive heads of government opting for their own men in the

police force to head the premier investigation agency of the country and political rivals

being investigated and chargesheeted at politically opportune times on flimsiest grounds

while cases of national significance on sound footing were dragged on for decades

wantonly. Often, ambiguous entries in diaries to prove bribery and old photographs

together in public functions to prove collaboration became conclusive evidence to

proceed against inconvenient political leaders. It was a scene of every successor hurling

criminal cases against his predecessor. Police reduced to a tool of political revenge in

this powergame. In the process, the police lost its credibility as a nonpartisan player and

an invincible tool of establishing justice. It is a pity that the lee-way police enjoy in
policing contributed to its loss of face and spine by its patent sequacious comportment

and lack of passion to the case of justice.

Opportunities of dispensing favours during maintenance of law are common and

aplenty in policing. It be raids on vice dens, issue of licences, or action on rowdy gangs,

decisions of police about whom, when and how, play important role in political

gameplan. The decisions and concomitant actions more often than not, are taken on

political convenience rather than as measures of curbing lawlessness. Police act as

conduits of partisan measures in favour of the powerful rather than as tools of

administering justice to all. Power assumed higher importance to police than justice.

Vice dens, criminals and rowdy gangs, bien chausse with political patronage or money

power, are not only allowed to run trouble-free, but often protected to the hilt by the

police. This is how the police in the job of serving justice are stabbing it en arriere.

Police patronage to hors la loi is ephhemeral and changes colours with the

change of guard in the government. Personal ambitions of some in the organisation lead

to partonages ectogenous to political manoeuvres in form of crosspolitical allegiances

and subservience to rich and influential segments of the society. In the maelstrom,

justice suffers, and the nation, its constitution and the general public to whom the police

as the guardians of justice are responsible, suffer.

Police is not the odd-job boy of the government. It is not the hand-maid of

politicians in or out of power. Police is an organisatioon of professionals committed to


the safety, security and well-being of the country. Justice and rule of law are the litmus

tests available to achieve these ends. Once police miss the bus of justice and the rule of

law, their goals of safety, security and well-being remain a distant dream. They lose the

credibility and respect of the public, so essential for effective and perficient policing.

The fear the police inspire can not take it far in absence of credibility, respect and

sympathy of the public. Once the police lose their usefulness in political and power

gameplans consequent to losing public credibility, their political patrons will discard

them like used condoms. The best bet for the police is to be professional and committed

to their responsibilities towards the administration of justice. Police would forget this

need only at their own peril. Doing anything violative of its raison d’etre like

sabotaging the course of justice will prove to be fatal to the relevance of the police for

the society.

The relevance of the police lies in its usefulness to the administration of justice au

reste safety and security. Police are the arms of the administration of justice. They are

the drive and thrust of the administration of justice. Paralysed arms crumble the body of

the administration of justice. Arms struck by struck by gangrene, poison the whole

system of the administration of justice. As a vital organ of the administration of

justice,police have inherent potentiality to sabotage the interests of justice ab intra in

umpteen kinds including blatant mendacity. Inordinate delays in the process of

investigations is one. Bartering justice is another. Subjecting justice to the terms of quid

pro quo is one more. Inefficient and shallow policing add to the list. Delivering partial

justice adds to the problem. Refusing to act against injustice is another kind of injustice to
justice. Making justice a costly affair gives another dimension to the issue. Effectiveness

of police lies in its ability in making justice an easily and cheaply dispensable

commodity. Police are the first line of the means of dispensing justice. Courts come to

the scene only in far later stage for restricted number of cases. For the hoi polloi, police

is the first and the only easy defence against injustices. Most cases of disputes never

cross the thresholds of the police stations. Police do act as arbitrators of justice in

criminal as well as civil cases in exercise of the wide spectrum of responsibilities of

crime investigations, investigations, maintenance of law, enforcement of order,

preventive measures and security duties. They enjoy a key position in the administration

of justice. A good police certainly symbolise effective administration of justice more

than courts and prosecution department together do. That is why a sound police system is

conditio sine qua non for the health and progress of the country and its tenuous social

fabric.