Monday, January 27, 2014

The Tug-of-War for Delhi Police

Since the election of the Aam Admi Party's to the helm of the State of Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been creating waves. Either as an activist protesting against corruption in the country or giving two of the bigwigs of Indian politics a run for their money, the unconventional Chief Minister has challenged the core based on which the Indian democracy has been running. Mr. Kejriwal recently received the wrath of the media for his campaign to bring the Delhi Police under State Government’s control. While the idea seems to be logical at face value, the story has to be dug a bit deeper to provide a just assessment as to whether the Chief Minister’s demands were actually rational.

Delhi Police under Delhi State Government
  • It is the responsibility of the state government to maintain law and order in the state. But without full control over actions of the Delhi Police, the government will be paralysed in fulfilling this responsibility as the instrument for control of law and order is not in their hands
  • The Chief Minister has been a crusader for abolishing corruption in public offices. Delhi Police has not had a stellar record in terms of its commitment to curbing corruption. Maybe a firm leadership under the current government may improve the situation in the matter of corruption
  • Being under the purview of the state government, the Delhi Police will be made accountable to the state government. This will ensure that fundamental problems within the department such as corruption, apathy and inefficiency can be curbed more effectively.

Delhi Police under Union Government
  • Delhi is the nation's capital and is home to all the Central Government offices and Embassies. This requires that the central government be responsible for the security of these offices so that relevant security concerns can be dealt with swiftly. A similar model is followed in Washington DC in the United States
  • The constitution grants Delhi only a partial statehood status. This implies that Delhi does not enjoy full statehood privileges hence the home ministry is responsible for its police force
  • While the Delhi Police is not accountable to the MLAs of the state government, it is still accountable to the highest law making body of the land, the parliament
  • Delhi Police requires a huge budget and considerable autonomy to function efficiently. This requires the central government to contribute funds for its upkeep and hence, needs the Delhi Police to be answerable to the central government.
  • Transferring Delhi Police to the Delhi government at this time requires a constitutional amendment. This amendment process will be tedious and time consuming
  • Mr. Kejriwal's idea of splitting the control of Delhi Police between the state and home ministry would cause the city to have two police bosses. This may create incoherence in function and loopholes which would work in the favour of those trying to evade the law
  • If the Delhi Police remains with the central government, it will be hard for any MLA from the state government to interfere with its work. This would prevent the Delhi Police to become an instrument for ideology propagation

While the debate goes on about who holds the reigns of the Delhi Police, it is necessary to understand that both sides have logical arguments to support their claims. This problem ultimately affects the common citizens of Delhi. A solution in this regard only can be reached to a proper, informed consensus from the people and with dialogue between the two parties involved.

The article has been written by Vistrit Choudhary, a writer and volunteer with the Zerocrime initiative. 

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