Dayalu Arasu is a very happy man, the president of FITES (Forum of Facilities Providers for IT/ITES Industries ), his cabs were being stopped and drivers harassed by members of a self styled cab drivers union. After he met the Police Commissioner on Monday a directive was issued to all police stations to check this intimidation. Arasu says "This is the quickest meeting I have had with the Police Commissioner. Our grievance was addressed on the same day and the harassment faced by our drivers has ended”.
Kumara Park residents association president N S Ramakant, who presented a petition regarding the improvement of traffic control on V S Raju road to the Commissioner says "Though we haven’t got any response from the police till now, I was happy that we could meet the Commissioner and explain our problem to him . I have been trying to meet BBMP Commissioner for past six months for the same issue without success. It would be better if more officials have such meets."
These were two of the cases that the Police Commissioner Shankar Bidari attended to at a recent grievance meet. Commissioner Bidari who assumed charge recently has re introduced his version of the janata darshan. From the city police department, the last such attempt was made during the tenure of H T Sangliana in 2003.
Any citizen can walk into the Police Commissioner’s office on Infantry road between 3 pm and 5 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and express their grievances. All that you need to do is write a letter explaining the nature of complaint, details of the case and the police station in which the case has been registered with your name , address and contact number.
No 1, Infantry road.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
3 PM- 5 PM.
After a personal hearing the Commissioner forwards the complaint to the concerned police station with his remarks. Directions are given to officials to register the complaints or initiate action. Each grievance will be attended to and action taken within 15 days, promises Bidari.
Seven such meets have been conducted till date and an average of fifty complaints are received at each meeting. Most complaints pertain to personal grievances especially family and marital disputes. But one can also see a few complaints related to civic issues and problems faced by professional bodies. Many complaints fall outside the purview of the Commissioner’s power and have to be turned away.
Bidari also says that a register of all complaints recieved is being maintained . A review of the program will be undertaken after three months and if found to be beneficial, similar meets will be conducted in all seven police divisions of the city, he says.
However, apart from the favourable media attention that these meets have garnered have they served any real purpose?
Former Police Commissioner, DG and IGP M D Singh says, "All police officers of all ranks from an Inspector to the Commissioner have to be available twenty-four hours of the day. A citizen has the right to meet the Commissioner at any time of the day to redress a serious grievance. Further the role of the Commissioner is only supervisory in nature, while the police station is the basic unit which performs the role of recording of FIR’s. So the entire administration has to be strengthened."
Another senior police official who does not want to be named points out that not a single punishment or disciplinary action has been issued to subordinates for failure to record FIR’s .
While Bangalore based senior criminal lawyer C V Sudheendra is of the opinion that the easy access to the Commissioner given by the meets is itself a major boon. "A meeting with a police inspector itself is very difficult to obtain. Plus the media glare under which these meets are being conducted will ensure that follow up action is taken." But he agrees that such meets are not effective for all kinds of cases.
Commissioner Bidari’s janata darshan appears to have made citizens happy with its promise of easy access. The real issue is that of follow up action. It is the lowest rung of the administration, the police station which needs to be made accountable and responsive. Let’s hope the commissioner uses the grievance meets as a first step in ensuring this. ⊕